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T  H  E 














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»  0  if  (  i  ti  i     v  i  It; 









THIS     VOLUME     IS, 






THE  feeling  has  frequently  been  expressed  of  late  years  that 
a  history  of  Sanquhar  would  prove  of  no  ordinary  interest, 
considering  the  ancient  origin  of  the  town,  its  standing  as 
one  of  the  old  Scottish  burghs,  its  intimate  connection 
through  its  old  Castle  and  the  doughty  Crichtons,  who  ruled 
there  with  the  most  stirring  period  of  our  national  history, 
and,  at  a  later  period,  with  the  struggles  of  the  Covenanters, 
and  likewise,  the  antiquarian  and  topographical  features  of 
the  district  of  which  it  is  the  centre. 

It  is  true  that  a  small  history  of  the  place  was  published 
in  1865  by  the  late  Rev.  Dr  Simpson,  but  it  was  defective  in 
various  respects,  particularly  in  that  no  attempt  was  made  to 
treat  of  municipal  affairs,  or  of  social  manners  and  customs. 
I  waited,  however,  in  the  hope  that  the  duty  would  be  under- 
taken by  some  one  more  experienced  in  literary  work,  but 
there  being  no  appearance  of  that,  and  as  much  valuable 
information  to  be  derived  from  oral  sources  was  in  danger  of 
being  lost,  I  felt  constrained  to  assume  the  task. 

The  first  difficulty  that  presented  itself  was  the  plan  of 
the  book,  having  to  deal  as  I  had  with  a  great  mass  of 
heterogeneous  materials.  No  one  plan  was  free  from  objec- 
tions, and  the  present  was  adopted  as  involving  the  least 
confusion.  Another  difficulty  was  the  extraordinary  fatality 
that  seems  to  have  attached  to  the  ancient  records  of  the 
town  and  parish.  The  Minutes  of  the  Town  Council  for  the 
first  120  years  have  all  disappeared,  and  those  of  the  Kirk- 
Session  and  other  public  bodies  are  likewise  defective  ;  in 
this  way,  much  information  that  would  have  been  invaluable 
in  the  compilation  of  such  a  history,  has  been  altogether 
lost.  I  have  further  to  regret  that  I  was  denied  access 

viii.  Preface. 

to  certain  ancient  charters  of  the  Crichtons,  recently  dis- 
covered at  Drumlanrig  Castle,  but  now  in  the  hands  of  a 
literary  gentleman  in  Edinburgh,  which  would  probably  have 
thrown  some  light  on  the  history  of  that  family,  and  been 
the  means  of  verifying  much  that  may  have  been  published 
on  doubtful  authority. 

It  is,  however,  my  duty  to  acknowledge,  which  I  now 
gratefully  do,  the  obligations  under  which  I  rest  for  valuable 
assistance  rendered  in  the  performance  of  my  task — to  the 
family  of  the  late  Dr  Simpson,  for  the  liberty  of  making 
extracts  from  the  history  of  Sanquhar  published  by  him  ;  to 
the  representatives  of  the  late  Dr  Watson,  Wanlockhead,  and 
Mr  Edmond,  schoolmaster,  there,  for  the  description  of  the 
Wanlockhead  Mines  ;  to  Mr  Thomas  M'Naught,  S.S.C., 
Edinburgh,  for  searches  made  in  the  State  Records  in  Edin- 
burgh ;  to  Mr  Galloway,  Inspector  of  Schools,  for  the  list  of 
derivations  of  place-names  ;  to  Dr  Anstruther  Davidson,  for 
the  chapter  contributed  by  him  on  the  Flora  and  Fauna  of 
the  district,  written  during  his  residence  in  Sanquhar,  thereby 
supplying  an  element  of  interest  not  often  found  in  a  local 
history  ;  to  Mr  J.  R.  Wilson,  Royal  Bank,  for  information  on 
antiquarian  matters,  and  for  access  to  his  valuable  collection ; 
and  to  friends  who  have  proved  exceedingly  helpful  in  other 

In  face,  therefore,  of  the  serious  drawbacks  mentioned, 
but  with  the  compensation  of  these  valuable  aids,  I  launch 
the  book  in  the  hope  that,  notwithstanding  its  many 
inherent  imperfections,  it  may  be  received  as  a  not  un- 
worthy history  of  a  town  and  district,  interesting  from  many 
points  of  view. 

SAXQCHAR,  Auyust,  1891. 

C  O  1ST  T  K  N  T 


Boundaries  and  extent  of  Parish,  1— Euchan,  2— Polvaird  Loch,  2— 
Pamphy  Linns,  8— Eliock  Estate  and  Woods,  12— Old  Kirk- 
bride,  14— Enterkin  Pass,  14— Crawick,  20— Mennock,  24— 
Glendyne,  25— Wanlockhead,25— Sanquhar  Moor,  26— Height 
of  principal  eminences,  27— Euchan  Well,  analysis,  27. 


Saen-Caer,  29— St.  Bride's  Well,  29— Ryehill  Moat,  30— Kemp's 
Castle,  31— Black  Loch  and  Lake  Dwelling,  32— Remains  of 
Ancient  Strongholds,  33— Cairns,  34 -The  Deil's  or  Picts' 
Dyke,  34— Chapel-yard  of  Dalpeddar,  35— Domestic  Archi- 
tecture, 35— Sanquhar  Old  Cross,  36— List  of  Antiquarian 
Relics,  36. 


Early  Settlers:  Ancient  British,  Roman,  Irish,  &c.,  39 — The  Edgars, 
41 — The  Norman  Colonisation,  42 — The  Rosses  of  Ryehill,  43 
— The  Refugee  Flemings,  45. 

Origin  of  name  of  Sanquhar,  47 — Capture  of  Sanquhar  Castle,  49 
—The  Black  Douglas,  50— The  Castle  deer,  51  -The  Feudal 
System,  52— Sanquhar  Hospital,  53— Sanquhar  Castle,  descrip- 
tion of,  54. 


Sir  Robert  Crichton,  Lord  of  Sanquhar,  made  Coroner  of  Nithsdale, 
64 — Sheriff  of  Dumfries,  65 -Battle  between  the  Crichtons 
and  the  Maxwells,  69 — Raid  by  the  Johnstones  of  Annandale, 
72 — Appeal  of  the  Sanquhar  Widows  to  the  King.  74 — The 
Hamiltons  of  Sanquhar,  75— Patrick  M'Crerick,  76— Feud 
between  Crichton  and  Sir  Robert  Dalziel  of  Eliock,  77— Lord 
Sanquhar's  Crime,  79 — His  Execution  at  Westminster,  80 — 


x.  Contents, 


Visit  of  King  James  to  Sanquhar  Castle,  83 — Sale  of  the 
Barony  to  Lord  Queensberry,  85 — Summoning  of  the  Clans, 
Old  Ballad,  87— Relics  of  the  Crichtons,  92. 


Robert  Crichton,  Lord  Elliock,  96  -  The  Admirable  Crichton,  97— 
The  Dalyells  of  Elliock,  99— The  Veitches,  100-Origin  of  the 
Veitch  Family,  101— Feud  between  the  Veitches  and  the 
Tweedies,  102— James  Veitch,  Lord  Elliock,  104 -The  estate 
entailed,  105— Sheriff  Veitch,  105-  Elliock  House,  106. 


The  National  Covenant,  108— The  Solemn  League  and  Covenant, 
109 -The  "  Canterbury  "  of  the  Covenanters,  ]  14 -The  First 
Sanquhar  Declaration  by  Cameron,  115— Reuwick's  Declara- 
tion, 117 — James  Hyslop,  poet,  brief  sketch  of  his  life,  118 — 
The  Cameronian's  Dream,  119 — Selections  from  the  Traditions 
of  the  Covenanters,  121 — James  Kirkwood,  curate,  136  — 
Cameron  Demonstration  at  Sanquhar,  142— Cameron  Monu- 
ment, 147. 


Conditions  essential  to  the  creation  of  a  free  Burgh  Royal :  The  Storn- 
awayCase,  149— The  First  Convention  of  Scottish  Burghs,  151— 
Functions  of  the  Convention,  1 53— Sanquhar  Charter,  155 
—Original  Sett  or  Constitution  of  the  Burgh,  159  -Admission 
to  the  Convention,  160— Privileges  and  Obligations  of  Burghs, 
161— Rights  of  Burgesses,  163— Condition  of  the  Burgh  in 
the  17th  century,  165— Qualification  of  Commissioners  to 
the  Convention,  167— George  Irving,  Commissioner  for 
Sanquhar,  168. 

First  Council  Minute  Book,  169 -Boundaries  of  the  Burgh,  170. 

The  Common  Lands  :  Pasturage  of,  171— Cultivation  of,  172— 
"The  Joggs,"  173— Revenue  from  lands,  175. 

Coal  :  Lease  of  Coal  on  Larsbraes,  17-")— Working  of  Coal  on  the 
Muir,  176— Revenues  therefrom,  177— Division  of  the  Muir 
Lands,  178. 

Parliamentary  Representation,  180. 

Town  Council,  Election  of,  183— Qualification  of  Members,  186— 
Non-resident  Members,  187— Commissioner  to  the  General 
Assembly,  188— Dean  of  Guild,  190— Pitt  or  Boundary  Stones, 

Contents.  xi. 


191— Birleymen,  191— Revenues  :  Table  of  Customs,  191— 
Market  Dues,  192— Stent  and  Teind,  193— Burgess'  Fees,  193 
— Stallangers,  193— The  Custom  Question,  193— The  Circus- 
horse  case,  194 — Abolition  of  Customs,  196. 

Powers  of  Magistrates :  Licences,  197— Public  Morals,  198 — 
Burgh  Fiscal,  1 99— The  Jailor,  199— Constables,  199— Poach- 
ing, 200  —  Smuggling,  200  — Brieves  of  Chancery,  201— 
Appointment  of  Schoolmaster,  203 — Paving  of  the  Streets, 
203 — Management  of  Roads,  204 — Sanquhar  Lamb  and  Wool 
Market,  207— Pork  Market,  208— Education,  208. 

The  Town  Clerk  :  John  Crichton,  his  struggle  with  the  Council, 
210 — His  resignation,  211. 

The  Burgh  Officer  :  His  Duties  and  Salary,  213 — Notable  holders 
of  the  office  :  William  Kellock,  214— Robert  Dargavel,  215— 
Sergeant  Thomson,  215— James  Black,  216. 

Celebrations :  King's  Birthday,  quaint  proclamation,  218 — Trades 
Election,  220 — The  Riding  of  the  Marches  ;  Captain  Scott, 
221— Town  Council  Annual  Election,  222. 

Dean  of  Guild  (formerly  Provost)  Robert  Whigham,  224 — His 
Rivalry  with  Provost  Otto,  225. 

Lighting  of  the  Streets,  226 — William  Broom  and  Thomas  Rae 
and  their  Contentions,  227 — J.  W.  Macqueen,  Town  Clerk, 
227 — Freedom  of  Burgh  presented  to  the  Duke  of  Buccleuch, 
231 — Honorary  Burgesses,  232 — New  Clock  and  Bell  for  Town 
Hall,  232— Loss  of  the  Burgh  Charter,  233— Search  for,  234 
— A  New  Charter  obtained  from  Court  of  Session,  235 — Liti- 
gation with  Duke  of  Buccleuch,  236. 

Sanitary  Measures,  237 — Boring  for  Coal  on  the  Muir,  237 — 
Draining  of  Green  Loch,  238. 

New  Public  Hall,  240 -Fire-Hose,  241 -Adoption  of  the  Police 
Act,  242. 

Building  Facilities  :  Deputation  to  the  Duke  of  Buccleuch,  242 — 
Building  Society,  243. 

The  Council  House,  Provost  Abraham  Crichton,  245 — The  Jail, 
246— Escapades  of  Prisoners,  246— Fire  in  the  Jail  :  Henry 
Wright,  248— The  Old  Smithy  :  "  The  Convener,"  249. 

Sanquhar  Bridge  :  Act  of  Scottish  Parliament  for  Maintenance, 
250— Flight  of  Queen  Mary,  251— Footbridge,  252— New 
Bridge,  252. 


Powers  of  the  Feudal  Barons,  253— Fight  at  the  Moss  of  Knockonie, 
254— The  Barons,  255— Condition  of  Dumfriesshire  in  1704, 
256-The  Rebellions  of  1715  and  1745,  256— The  Sanquhar 

xii.  Contents. 


Men  under  Provost  Abraham  Crichton,  258 — Prince  Charlie's 
Retreat,  258— Prince  Charlie's  Drum,  260. 

Abolition  of  Heritable  Jurisdictions  and  its  effects,  261 — The 
effects  of  the  Union,  263 — Development  of  Manufactures,  263 
— Condition  of  the  People  :  their  diet,  times  of  scarcity,  264. 

Connection  of  the  Poet  Burns  with  the  Town,  266— With  John- 
ston of  Clackleith,  Rigg  of  Crawick  Forge,  and  Provost 
Edward  Whigham,  266. 

The  Continental  War  :  French  Prisoners,  269. 

The  Dry  Year  of  1826  and  the  great  Snowstorm  of  1827,  270— 
Stage-Coaches,  271 — William  Cunningham's  Walking  Feat, 
272— The  Resurrectionist  Scare,  272. 

The  Reform  Bill  Demonstration,  273. 

Folk-lore  :  Benjamin  Robison  (Ben)  and  other  Characters,  273. 

Threatened  Visitation  of  Cholera  :  Measures  to  ward  off,  280 — 
The  Long  Frost,  281. 

The  Making  of  the  Railway  :  Disturbances  by  the  navvies  and 
collision  with  the  populace,  282 — Introduction  of  Gas,  283 — 
Reading  Room,  284 — Dalkeith  Terrace  constructed,  284 — The 
Pump  Well,  284— Gravitation  Water  Supply,  285— The 
Volunteer  Movement,  285  —  Mr  Ewart,  M.P.,  and  his 
opponent,  Mr  Haunay,  286— Earl  of  Dalkeith's  majority, 
Celebration  of,  286  — Visit  of  the  Prince  and  Princess  of 
Wales,  286— Coming  of  age  of  Lord  Eskdaill,  287— The 
Queen's  Jubilee,  288. 

Effects  of  the  Railway  on  the  social  habits  and  customs  of  the 
people,  289 — Emigration,  289— Former  Modes  of  Travelling, 
290 —Fairs  and  their  Accompaniments,  292 — Obsolete  Trades, 
296 — Dissemination  of  News,  298. 

Travelling  Circuses  :  Reminiscences  of  Mr  Ord,  301 — Amateur 
Theatricals:  Charlie  M'lver  and  "  The  Button,"  308— Failure 
of  Trade,  311 — Practices  of  Trading,  311 — Depopulation  of 
the  District,  313— Dress  of  the  People,  317— Social  Effects  of 
the  Railway,  319. 


Institution  of  the  Curling  Society,  320— The  Curlers'  Word  and 
Grip,  321 — Extracts  from  Society's  Minutes  and  Curling 
Stories,  323. 


Agriculture  :  Condition  of,  in  last  century,  329 — Highland  Society 
Established,  330— Public  Spirit  of  Duke  Charles,  331— The 
"Breaking  of  the  Tacks,"  333— Turnip  Cultivation  introduced, 

Contents.  xiii. 


334— Lint  Cultivation  and  Manufacture,  334 —Introduction  of 
Tile-Draining  and  Liming,  335— Great  Rise  in  Prices  of  Agri- 
cultural Produce,  336— Improvement  of  Cattle  :  Introduction 
of  Ayrshires  and  of  Clydesdale  Horses,  337  —  The  "  good 
Duke  "  and  Mr  J.  Gilchrist-Clark,  33S. 

Mining  :  Early  Mining,  Coal  in  Lime  of  old  Castle  Walls,  339— 
Old  Workings  near  town,  340— Lease  of  the  Duke's  Minerals 
to  Mr  Barker,  341— Coal-pits  formerly  worked,  342— Coal 
Traffic  by  Road,  and  its  effect  on  the  trade  of  the  town,  343 — 
Recent  Boring  Operations  and  present  prospects,  346— 
Description  of  the  Coal-field,  348. 

Weaving  :  Early  Methods,  351— The  Spinning  WTheel,  353— The 
Tailor  "  whipping  the  cat  "  and  the  Pedlar  on  his  rounds,  354 
— Introduction  of  Cotton,  356— Condition  of  the  Weavers,  357 
— Their  Characteristics,  357 — The  Fabrics  worked,  359 — 
Introduction  of  the  Power-Loom  and  consequent  decay  of 
Hand-Loom  Weaving,  360— Carpet  Weaving  at  Crawick  Mill 
—The  Carpet  Company,  363— Woollen  Mills,  365. 

Miscellaneous:  Brickmaking,  367 — Forging,  368  — Engineer- 
ing, 370. 


Observance  of  the  Sabbath  in  early  times,  371 — Church  Regula- 
tions, 372 — System  of  Catechising,  374 — Public  Morals  and 
Religious  Observances,  375. 

The  Sacrament  :  Manner  of  Celebration,  375 — The  abuses  that 
arose  in  connection  therewith — -Burns  and  the  Ecclesiastical 
Authorities,  379— The  Tent  Preachings,  381—"  Haudin'  "  the 
Sanquhar  Sacrament,  382. 

List  of  Parish  Ministers,  383— The  Manse,  386— The  Parish 
Church,  387— South  U.P.  Church,  388— North  U.P.  Church, 
390— The  Free  Church,  391— The  E.U.  Church,  392— Baptists 
—Mission  Hall,  393. 


Registers:    The  Old   Parochial  Register,    394— Population   of  the 

Parish,  395— Vital  Statistics,  396. 

Education  :  Provisions  for,  396— Educational  Endowments  Com- 
missioners' Scheme  for  Administration  of  the  Crichton  Trust, 
398— Re-organisation  of  the  School,  398-  -Schools  at  Wanlock- 
head  and  Mennock,  400— Notable  Teachers  :  James  Orr,  400 
— James  Laurie,  406. 

xiv.  Contents. 


The  Poor  :  Statutory  Provision  for,  408— The  M'Aclam  Bequest, 


Origin  of  Village,  413 — Social  Customs,  413— Social  Economy,  414 — 
Steam  Navigation,   415— Recreations  of  Miners,    419  — Local 
Institutions,  420 -The   Established  Church,   421— The   Free 
Church,  422. 
The  Mines  :  Account  of,  424 



r.  f.r«  in/ 

.  i     r>  n  n  M  {•<  i      •,  j  i  f  (  r 

CHAPTER      I. 

^ANQUHAR  is  situated  on  the  left  bank  of  the  Nith, 
twenty-six  miles  north-west  of  Dumfries.  The 
Parish  is  eighteen  miles  in  length,  by  five  miles  in 
breadth,  and  embraces  an  area  of  above  sixty-one 
square  miles.  The  Nith,  which  takes  its  rise  in 
Ayrshire,  a  few  miles  above  New  Cumnock,  passes 
into  Dumfriesshire  at  a  point  eight  miles  north-west  of 
Sauquhar,  by  an  opening  in  the  chain  of  hills  which  skirts 
the  northern  boundary  of  the  county,  and  terminates  in 
Corsancone,  the  hills  on  the  west  side  of  the  valley  being 
linked  with  the  great  Galloway  range.  Having  traversed 
the  parish  of  Kirkconnel  for  a  distance  of  seven  miles,  the 
river  enters  the  parish  of  Sanquhar  at  the  point  where  it  is 
joined  by  Crawick.  This  stream  forms  the  boundary  between 
the  two  parishes  on  the  east  side  of  the  valley,  while  on  the 
west  they  are  divided  by  Kello,  which  flows  into  Nith  two 
miles  higher.  On  the  right  bank  the  ground  rises  gradually 
to  a  range  of  hills  which  runs  parallel  to  the  course  of  the 
river.  These  hills  are  very  uniform  in  height,  and  are 
smooth  and  green  to  their  summits.  They  contain  two  prin- 
cipal eminences,  the  Black  Lorg,  2890,  and  Cairnkinnow,  1813 
feet  in  height.  At  the  back  of  the  range,  and  overlooking 
Scaur,  is  the  tremendous  precipice  of  Glenwhargen,  rising 
almost  perpendicularly  to  the  height  of  about  1000  feet. 
The  Black  Lorg  stands  at  the  north-west  corner  of  the 
county.  Forming,  as  it  does,  the  water-shed  of  this  region, 

2  History  of  Sanquhar. 

the  sources  of  several  streams  are  to  be  found  here,  giving 
rise  to  the  rhyme — 

"  Euchan,  Scaur,  Kello,  and  Ken 
A'  rise  oot  o'  ae  wee  hill-en'. " 

Kello,  as  has  been  said,  forms  the  boundary  between  Sanquhar 
and  Kirkconnel,  while  Euchan,  taking  a  more  southerly 
course,  drains  the  west  side  of  Sanquhar  parish,  and  falls 
into  Nith  just  opposite  the  town.  Near  the  head  of  Euchan 
there  is  on  the  summit  of  the  hill  above  Glenglass,  Polvaird 
Loch,  a  sheet  of  water  a  little  over  three  acres  in  extent,  and 
unique  both  in  its  situation  and  appearance.  It  is  situated 
on  the  top  of  a  hill  1800  feet  above  sea-level.  It  is  in  shape 
a  parallelogram,  not  quite  rectangular,  two  of  the  opposite 
corners  being  drawn  out  on  the  line  of  the  diagonal.  Its 
sides  are  so  regular  as  to  give  the  impression  of  its  having 
been  the  work  of  man,  but  it  is  one  of  the  mountain-tarns, 
which  are  so  common  a  feature  of  Scottish  scenery.  This 
loch  has  no  surface  feeder  except  the  rainfall  which  may 
find  its  way  into  the  little  basin  in  which  it  lies.  It  is, 
however,  undoubtedly  fed  by  springs,  as  is  evidenced  by  the 
fact  that,  notwithstanding  its  great  elevation,  it  is  never  quite 
frozen  over  even  in  the  severest  winter.  Nor  had  it  any 
natural  overflow  except  what  trickled  through  some  marshy 
ground  on  the  north-west  side  into  the  head  of  Polvaird 
Burn,  which  flows  down  to  Euchan,  till  some  years  ago  a 
ditch  was  dug  connecting  it  with  the  burn,  whereby  its 
depth  was  reduced  and  its  area  somewhat  restricted.  This 
was  done  by  the  then  tenant  of  the  farm  of  Barr,  on 
which  the  loch  lies,  on  account  of  his  having  suffered  the 
loss  of  a  sheep  by  drowning  in  its  waters.  Polvaird  contains 
very  few  fish.  Efforts  have  been  made  from  time  to  time 
to  stock  it  with  trout,  a  number  having  been  transferred 
from  the  neighbouring  Euchan,  but  they  do  not  appear  to 
thrive  ;  at  all  events,  the  angler's  art  is  plied  with  scant 
success.  There  are  several  rude  curling-stones,  with  primi- 

Hitsto'ry  of  Sattqukwr.  3 

tive  handles,  lying  on  its  banks;  and  to  prevent  the  credulous 
antiquary  of  a  future  time  from  constructing  some  wonderful 
theory  on  the  existence  of  these  stones,  it  may  be  explained 
that  they  were  carried  up  by  the  family  of  one  of  the  shep- 
herds on  Euchan  water,  in  order  that  they  might  have  the 
opportunity  of  enjoying  Scotland's  "  roaring  game  "  in  the 
only  possible  place  in  this  region. 

Towards  the  end  of  last  century,  this  country-side  was 
robbed  of  much  of  its  natural  beauty  by  the  despicable 
policy  of  the  last  Duke  of  Queensberry.  He  had  no  issue, 
and,  it  is  supposed,  to  spite  the  collateral  branch  of  the 
family  who  were  to  succeed  him,  doomed  to  destruction  the 
woods  on  the  estate.  It  does  seem  that  the  Duke  had  been 
animated  by  some  such  malicious,  spiteful  motive,  for  had 
the  raising  of  money  merely  been  his  object,  he  would  have 
confined  the  fell  work  of  destruction  to  the  enclosed  woods 
and  plantations,  which  were  of  some  commercial  value, 
whereas  we  find  that  not  even  the  bonnie  glens  were  spared, 
but  that  they  were  robbed  of  their  adornment  of  natural 
wood.  It  was  at  this  time  that  one  of  the  sides  of  the 
Euchan  was  cleared,  but,  fortunately,  the  other  had  not  been 
overtaken  when  the  old  Duke's  death  occurred,  and  then  the 
work  was  promptly  put  an  end  to.  The  following  verses 
were  found  written  on  a  window-shutter  of  a  small  inn  on 
the  banks  of  the  Nith  soon  after  this  district,  one  of  the 
finest  in  the  south  of  Scotland,  had  been  thus  disfigured  to 
gratify  an  unworthy  passion.  It  is  not  unlikely  that  they 
were  written,  as  has  been  supposed,  by  Burns,  as  he  was 
given  to  scribbling  down  his  effusions  in  such  places  : — 

"  As  on  the  banks  of  wandering  Nith 

Ae  smiling  morn  I  strayed, 
And  traced  its  bonnie  howes  and  haughs, 

Where  Unties  sang  and  lambkins  played, 
I  sat  me  down  upon  a  craig, 

And  drank  my  fill  o'  fancy's  dream, 
When,  from  the  eddying  pool  below, 

Up  rose  the  genius  of  the  stream. 

4  History  of  Sanquhar. 

Dark,  like  the  frowning  rock,  his  brow, 

And  troubled,  like  his  wintry  wave, 
And  deep,  as  sighs  the  boding  wind 

Among  his  caves,  the  sighs  he  gave  : 
'  And  cam'  ye  here,  my  son,'  he  cried, 
'  To  wander  in  my  birken  shade  ? 
To  muse  some  favourite  Scottish  theme, 
Or  sing  some  favourite  Scottish  maid  ? 

There  was  a  time,  it's  nae  lang  syne, 

Ye  might  hae  seen  me  in  my  pride  ; 
When  a'  my  weel-clad  banks  could  see 

Their  woody  pictures  in  my  tide  ; 
When  hanging  beech  and  spreading  elms 

Shaded  my  streams  sae  clear  and  cool, 
And  stately  oaks  their  twisted  arms 

Threw  broad  and  dark  across  the  pool. 

When,  glittering  through  the  trees,  appeared 

The  wee  white  cot  aboon  the  mill, 
And  peaceful  rose  its  ingle  reek 

That  slowly  curling  clamb  the  hill. 
But  now  the  cot  is  bare  and  cauld, 

It's  branchy  shelter's  lost  and  gane, 
And  scarce  a  stinted  birch  is  left 

To  shiver  in  the  blast  its  lane. ' 

'  Alas,'  said  I,  '  what  wofu'  chance 

Has  tyned  ye  o'  your  stately  trees  ? 
Has  laid  your  rocky  bosom  bare  1 

Has  stripped  the  cleading  aff  your  braes  ? 
Was  it  the  bitter  eastern  blast 

That  scatters  blight  in  early  spring  ? 
Or  was't  the  wil'  fire  scorched  their  boughs, 

Or  canker-worm  wi'  secret  sting  ?' 

'  Nae  eastern  blast,'  the  sprite  replied  ; 
It  blaws  nae  here  sae  fierce  and  fell ; 
And  on  my  dry  and  halesome  banks 

Nae  canker-worms  get  leave  to  dwell. 
Man  !  cruel  Man  !'  the  genius  sighed, 

As  through  the  cliffs  he  sank  him  down, 
•  The  worm  that  gnawed  my  bonnie  trees — 
That  reptile  wears  a  Ducal  Crown. '  " 

In  spite,  however,  of  the  extent  to  which  Euchan  was  thus 
disrobed  of  much  of  its  beauty,  it  is  a  bounie  glen.     A  good 

History  of  Sanquhar.  5 

road  runs  along  almost  its  entire  length,  and  no  pleasanter 
walk  on  a  summer  day  could  be  desired.  It  is  necessary  to 
offer  a  word  of  caution  to  visitors  by  informing  them  that 
this  glen  is  infested  with  adders.  These  snakes  are  frequently 
to  be  seen  basking  themselves  on  the  sunny  brae  which  forms 
the  left  bank  of  the  stream.  They  measure  about  18  inches 
and  even  more  in  length.  The  careless  walker  might  readily 
step  on  one  of  them,  for  in  pails  the  ground  is  covered  with 
deep  heather,  but  this  would  be  a  case  of  "  caught  napping," 
for  the  adder  at  the  sound  of  human  footstep  glides  rapidly 
out  of  sight.  He  will  not  stand  his  ground,  far  less  offer 
attack,  unless  he  be  come  upon  unexpectedly  and  find  his 
retreat  cut  off.  But  the  danger  is  more  imaginary  than  real, 
for  there  is  no  record  of  any  accident  through  adder-bite 
there.  There  is  excellent  trout  fishing  in  the  tributaries  of 
the  Nith,  and  particularly  in  Euchan.  During  last  year,  up 
to  the  month  of  June,  one  angler  alone  caught  over  one 
hundred  dozen  of  fair  size,  all  the  smaller  being  returned  to 
the  water.  There  is  nothing  particularly  noteworthy  about 
the  hills  in  the  upper  part  of  Euchan  glen,  unless  it  be  what 
is  known  as  the  Banyan  Crag,  a  little  above  the  Bank  dyke. 
This  Crag  presents  a  bold,  precipitous  front  several  hundred 
feet  in  height.  While  the  water  of  Crawick  and  Mennock 
is  remarkably  clear  and  limpid,  Euchan,  particularly  when  it 
is  in  flood,  pours  down  a  volume  of  water  embrowned  with 
peat,  which  forms  dark,  mysterious  pools,  and  shews  a  fine 
rich  colour  where  it  tosses  impetuously  over  its  rocky  bed. 
For  two  miles  above  its  outlet  the  course  of  this  stream  is 
most  picturesque.  Ceasing  at  the  farm-house  of  Old  Ban- 
to  flow,  as  it  has  done  from  its  source,  in  the  open,  it  enters 
between  walls  of  rock,  through  which  it  has,  in  the  course  of 
ages,  worn  a  deep  channel,  washing  the  whinstone  perfectly 
smooth,  and  into  the  most  fantastic  shapes.  One  cascade 
after  another,  with  dark,  deep  narrow  pools  between,  forms 
a  most  striking  and  charming  picture.  When  in  flood  the 
Euchan  here  roars  and  thunders  like  a  miniature  Niagara, 

6  History  o 

and  a  peep  of  the  "  Deil's  Dungeon  "  —  for  so  this  part  is 
named  —  can  only  be  obtained  from  one  point  or  another  of 
the  overhanging  crag  ;  but  on  a  summer  day,  when  the 
volume  of  water  is  small  in  comparison,  a  splendid  view  of 
the  "  Dungeon  "  can  be  obtained  by  descending  to  the  bed 
of  the  stream  by  a  steep  narrow  path  at  the  point  where  that 
dark  gruesome  gullet  ceases.  Here  the  stream  parts  into 
two,  leaving  a  spacious  level  rock  in  the  centre  quite  dry. 
This  rock  can  be  easily  enough  reached  from  either  side  by- 
creeping  along  the  bank  till  where  the  parted  stream  is  at  the 
narrowest,  and  a  short  step  lands  one  safely.  It  is  well 
worth  the  trouble  of  the  descent.  The  rocks  rise  up  in  huge 
masses  on  either  side,  and  are  crowned  with  trees,  which 
swing  their  arms  over  the  overhanging  ledge.  Looking  up, 
one  sees  the  water  sweep  round  a  bend,  which  forms  the 
limit  of  the  view,  turning  the  whole  into  a  sort  of  chamber. 
It  tumbles  over  a  large  rock,  which  still  obstructs  its  progress, 
and  then  sweeps  down  as  if  it  would  carry  one  away,  but 
presently,  being  no  longer  fretted  by  any  barrier,  it  finds 
ample  room  for  itself  in  a  dark  pool,  and  then  parting,  it 
glides  swiftly  and  silently  past  in  two  black  narrow  channels. 
But  for  the  difficulty  of  access  this  would  form  an  admirable 
place  for  a  pic-nic. 

A  little  distance  below  the  "  Deil's  Dungeon  "  the  stream 
again  passes  through  a  long  channel  of  rock  not  more  than 
three  or  four  feet  wide,  which  bears  the  name  of  "  The 
Lover's  Loup."  The  name  is  probably  associated  with  a  long- 
forgotten  tradition  ;  as  it  is,  the  leap  across,  though  not  a 
great  one,  tries  the  nerve  of  him  who  performs  it,  for  the 
water,  dark  as  Erebus  and  of  profound  depth,  fascinates  the 
eye,  and  is  apt  to  render  the  head  giddy.  Immediately 
under  "  The  Lover's  Loup  "  we  come  to  what  are  known  as 
the  "  Drappin'  Linns,"  where  the  freestone  first  makes  its 
appearance.  These  Linns  are  on  the  east  side  of  the  stream, 
where  the  soft  rock  towers  up  to  a  height  of  forty  feet  or  so, 
and  overhangs  the  river  bed  in  a  picturesque  manner  ;  the 

History  of  SanquJiar.  7 

name  which  it  has  received  being  derived  from  the  water 
which  continually  drips  from  the  roof  of  this  cave-like  recess. 
The  footpath  up  the  bank  of  the  stream  runs  over  the  top  of 
the  linns  on  a  narrow  ledge,  and  the  trepidation,  caused  as 
one  passes  along  this  dangerous  path  at  the  sight  of  the 
overhanging  precipice,  would  be  increased  were  it  known,  as 
it  is  not  to  every  one,  that  the  whole  mass  has  such  an 
apparently  slender  hold.  The  course  of  the  water  now  reveals 
the  change  that  has  taken  place  in  the  rock  strata.  It  runs 
over  beds  of  freestone,  and  traces  of  the  coal  measures 
become  discernible.  The  rock  on  the  edge  of  the  field  is 
very  soft  in  texture,  yielding  readily  to  the  influence  of  the 
waters,  by  which  it  is  worked  into  the  most  curious  forms, 
as,  for  example,  at  the  "  Drappin'  Linns  "  above  mentioned, 
and  the  "  Pamphy  Linns,"  a  short  distance  across  the  moor. 
The  Falls  of  Euchan,  a  little  farther  down,  present  a  face  of 
freestone,  fifteen  or  twenty  feet  thick ;  while  a  short  distance 
down  stream,  the  rock  is  found  very  hard  and  compact.  The 
colour  being  a  very  light  grey,  it  has  been  quarried  on  an 
extensive  scale  for  building  purposes.  From  it  the  material 
for  the  new  bridge  over  the  Nith,  built  in  1855,  was  obtained. 
Just  opposite  Euchan  Falls,  on  the  west  side,  tradition  says 
there  was  once  a  waulk-mill.  There  are  certainly  traces  of 
what  appears  to  have  been  a  mill-race,  whereby  the  water 
had  been  diverted  for  some  industrial  purpose.  Near  the 
same  place,  and  on  the  same  bank,  are  the  remains  of  a 
cottage  or  cottages,  probably  in  connection  with  the  mill. 
In  the  glen  of  Euchan  there  are  the  ruins  of  quite  a  number 
of  houses,  but  this  is  an  example  only  of  what  is  to  be  seen 
in  all  directions,  and  affords  proof  of  the  extent  to  which 
depopulation  has  been  carried  on  in  our  country  districts. 
Between  the  Falls  and  the  quarry  stands  an  object  of  anti- 
quarian interest.  In  the  angle  formed  by  the  junction  of 
the  Barr  Burn  with  Euchan  is  a  ridge,  pretty  steep  on  the 
Barr  Burn  side,  and  perfectly  inaccessible  from  the  Euchan, 
the  rocks  rising  there  like  a  wall.  A  position  like  this,  with 

8  History  of  Sanquhar. 

exceptional  means  of  defence  of  a  natural  kind,  could  not 
escape  the  eye  of  the  dwellers  of  that  early  time,  and  so  we 
find  that  it  was  once  a  stronghold  bearing  the  name  of 
Kemp's  Castle.  A  more  detailed  description  of  this  spot 
will  be  found  in  the  chapter  on  the  antiquities  of  the  district. 
On  the  Barr  Burn  are  the  "  Pamphy  Linns  " — curious  and 
interesting,  but  not  so  imposing  as  the  name  by  which  they 
have  been  dignified  would  lead  one  to  expect.  They  are, 
however,  well  worth  a  visit.  There  being  no  road  up  the 
barn,  the  visitor  must  proceed  by  the  Barr  and  Barr  Moor 
house.  Passing  round  behind  the  latter  one  must  strike 
straight  across  the  field  towards  the  wood  in  front,  where  a 
gate  in  the  dyke  gives  him  entrance  to  the  wood,  through 
which  the  burn  here  pursues  its  course.  The  Linns  are 
formed  by  the  action,  on  the  soft  freestone,  of  the  two  small 
burns,  which  at  the  foot  join  to  form  the  Barr  Burn,  by 
which  it  has  been  carved  into  the  most  grotesque  forms. 
The  rock  lies  near  the  surface,  and  the  burn  having  washed 
away  its  slight  covering  of  soil  has  worn  a  channel  narrow 
and  ever  deepening.  Curiously  enough,  the  lower  stratum  of 
rock  is  much  softer  than  the  portion  overlying  it.  Thus  it 
is,  that  so  soon  as  the  water  had  worn  its  way  through  the 
upper  stratum,  the  lower  was  scooped  out  on  all  sides  when 
the  burn  was  in  flood,  leaving  the  harder  upper  rock  over- 
hanging these  subterranean  chambers  in  the  most  wonderful 
manner.  The  rock  had  originally  stretched  across  the  course 
of  both  burns,  and  each  had  cut  its  way  through,  leaving  the 
centre  part  towering  up  intact  between  them.  When  the 
wood  was  enclosed  about  forty  years  ago,  there  was  perpe- 
trated what  some  will  regard  as  a  piece  of  vandalism,  for, 
with  no  regard  to  the  romantic  beauty  of  this  secluded  spot, 
the  rocks  were  torn  down  and  carted  away  for  the  construc- 
tion of  the  dyke.  It  was  a  wanton  act,  too,  for  the  same 
rock  lies  all  round  in  the  fields  quite  near  to  the  surface,  and 
it  stripped  the  "Pamphy  Linns"  of  much  of  their  former  glory. 
We  have  been  thus  particular  in  giving  the  approach  to 

History  of  Sanqukar.  9 

these  linns  because,  like  many  of  the  natural  beauties  to  be 
met  with  in  moorland  districts,  they  migh't,  being  all  under 
the  level  of  the  ground,  be  passed  unobserved  by  any  one 
riot  acquainted  with  their  locality.  The  same  natural 
operation  is  to  be  seen  on  a  larger  scale  at  Oichope 
Linns,  near  Thornhill,  where  the  rock,  being  of  the  same 
description,  like  results  have  been  produced  by  the  water's 

Not  a  hundred  yards  from  the  foot  of  the  road  which 
leads  to  Euchan  quarry,  and  which  thereafter  continues  up 
the  side  of  the  stream  as  a  footpath,  there  issues  from  the 
face  of  the  rocky  bank  a  spring  known  as  Euchan  Well,  or 
Baird's  Well — Baird,  who  resided  in  the  little  cottage  at  the 
opening  of  the  road,  being  a  "  character  "  in  his  way.  That 
the  spring  has  a  deep  source  is  evident  from  the  fact  that 
the  quantity  of  water  issuing  from  it  is  not  affected  by  the 
rainfall,  nor  is  its  temperature  by  the  season,  the  latter 
quality  giving  rise  to  the  popular  notion,  which  applies  to 
many  deep  springs,  that  it  is  coldest  in  summer  and  warmest 
in  winter — that  being  so  only  in  imagination,  and  caused  by 
the  contrast  which  its  equable  temperature  presents  to  the 
prevailing  temperature  of  other  objects.  Some  years  ago 
attention  was  drawn  to  the  character  of  this  well,  which  is 
of  the  chalybeate  class.  The  analysis  will  be  found  at  the 
end  of  this  chapter.  Numbers  of  people  professed  to  having 
found  its  water  to  be  valuable  in  its  tonic  and  other  properties. 
It  was  opened  out,  a  pipe  inserted,  by  which  the  water  is 
now  discharged,  a  drinking  cup  attached  to  the  rock,  and 
a  gravelled  footpath  constructed  alongside  the  road  leading 
past  it.  Dreams  were  cherished  of  the  possible  revival  of  the 
prosperity  of  Sanquhar,  which  was  in  a  sadly  reduced  state, 
owing,  first,  to  the  closing  of  the  carpet  works  at  Crawick 
Mill,  and  next,  to  the  decay  of  the  handloom  weaving,  which 
was  driven  to  the  wall  by  the  introduction  of  machinery.  It 
was  hoped  that,  with  this  medicinal  spring  and  all  the 
attractions  of  pure  air  and  charming  scenery,  Sanquhar 


10  History  of&anquhar. 

might  become  a  popular  health  resort,  but  that  hope  has  not 
been  realised  as  yet  to  any  great  extent. 

There  are  few  districts  in  Scotland  which  can  be  compared 
with  that  of  Upper  Nithsdale,  of  which  Sanquhar  is  the 
centre,  for  all  that  goes  to  make  a  desirable  summer  resort. 
The  description  which  is  here  given  of  its  topographical 
features  will  give  the  reader  an  idea,  however  imperfect,  of 
its  wealth  of  natural  beauty — a  beauty  which  embraces 
every  element  of  mountain  and  plain,  hill  and  dale,  forest 
glade  and  dark  ravine,  lonely  moor  and  cultivated  holm- 
lands,  roaring  cataract  and  placid  pool,  breezy  upland  and 
bosky  glen — the  whole  invested  with  an  historical  interest 
of  no  common  order.  What  besides  increases  the  attractions 
of  the  district  to  the  visitor  is  the  almost  absolute  and  unre- 
strained freedom  to  be  enjoyed.  Notices  of  "  Trespassers 
will  be  prosecuted,"  "  Keep  to  the  road,"  and  others  of  a  like 
nature,  by  which  a  selfish  and  exclusive  landlordism  would 
seek  to  deprive  the  general  public  of  enjoyments  which 
are  the  heritage  of  humanity,  are  nowhere  to  be  seen.  In 
this  respect  the  Duke  of  Buccleuch,  and,  following  his 
example,  the  other  landed  proprietors  of  the  district,  have 
allowed  to  all  the  liberty  to  roam  wheresoever  they  list. 
In  this  and  other  respects  the  family  of  Buccleuch  have, 
constantly  in  their-relations  with  the  public,  set  an  example 
of  unselfishness  and  kindly  feeling,  which  were  it  more  widely 
imitated  would  go  far  to  soften  the  antagonism  that  has 
oftentimes  been  created  between  class  and  class  by  those 
petty  and  irritating  restrictions  upon  the  exercise  of  privi- 
leges which  are  the  source  of  the  purest  delight  to  the 
people,  and  which  neither  invade  the  natural  rights  nor 
injure  the  interests  of  the  possessors  of  the  soil  in  any 
conceivable  way. 

It  is  evident  that  considerable  changes  have  occurred  in 
the  course  of  the  River  Nith  and  some  of  its  tributary 
streams.  Gradual  changes  are  common  enough  in  most 
river  courses,  and  are  usually  caused  by  the  detrition  of  the 

History  of  Sanqufiar.  1 1 

banks  from  the  action  of  the  waters.  Within  recent  times 
Nith  has  made  serious  inroads,  for  example,  on  its  right  hank 
just  below  the  Bridge,  and  opposite  the  Washing  Green,  the 
river  now  running  much  farther  south,  and  in  a  deeper 
channel,  than  it  did  within  the  memory  of  the  present 
generation  ;  but  we  refer  to  what  must  have  been  a  sudden 
and  complete  change  of  course,  the  result,  probably,  of  a 
more  than  ordinarily  heavy  flood.  Judging  from  the  con- 
figuration and  the  constitution  of  the  soil,  which  is  very 
gravelly,  Crawick,  when  it  had  reached  the  open  valley, 
instead  of  pursuing  a  straight  westerly  course  till  it  was 
received  into  the  bosom  of  the  larger  stream,  must  at  one 
time  have  swept  round  in  a  more  southerly  direction,  skirting 
the  base  of  the  plateau  which  is  here  formed,  and  on  which 
the  Manse  stands,  and  have  joined  Nith  about  the  farmhouse 
of  Blackaddie,  if  not  farther  down.  Then,  with  regard  to 
Nith  itself,  we  conclude  on  similar  grounds  that  its  course 
opposite  Sanquhar  has  undergone  a  material  alteration.  On 
the  left  bank,  from  where  the  Old  Bridge  crossed  the  river 
at  the  foot  of  the  Washing  Green  to  the  King's  Scaur,  a 
distance  of  a  mile,  the  ground  rises  quite  precipitously  to  a 
height  of  100  feet.  This  line  of  cliffs  is  known  as  the  Brae- 
heads,  and  there  can  be  little  doubt  that  at  one  time  Nith 
flowed  close  to  their  base  all  the  way.  The  line  takes  a 
somewhat  sharp  bend  at  a  certain  point,  and  here  it  is  that 
the  river,  swollen  to  an  unusual  height,  had  burst  its 
southern  bank,  and  pursued  its  headlong  career  through 
the  alluvial  plain.  It  was  speedily  checked,  however,  in  its 
wayward  course,  for  the  cliff  at  the  Mains  Pool  stood  in 
its  way.  There  it  was  compelled  to  turn  again  towards 
the  east,  and  after  a  graceful  curve  and  sweep  round  the 
Mains  Holm,  it  regained  its  ancient  course  at  the  King's 
Scaur.  It  is  on  the  edge  of  the  cliffs  above  mentioned  that 
the  Castle  of  Sanquhar  stands.  The  ancient  strongholds 
which  are  scattered  all  over  the  country  are  generally  found 
built  on  positions  of  natural  strength,  presenting  as  great 

1 2  History  of  Sanquhar. 

difficulty  of  attack  as  possible.  The  position  of  Sanquhar 
Castle  on  this,  the  south-west  side  was  thus  well  protected, 
and  with  the  river  running  at  the  base  of  the  cliff  it  would 
be  practically  unassailable.  Proceeding  southwards,  the 
valley  contracts,  the  hills  rising  abruptly  on  both  sides  from 
the  river,  which  now  loses  its  general  character  of  a  broad, 
smooth-flowing  stream,  and  is  confined  within  a  narrow 
rocky  channel,  its  course  for  several  miles  being  marked  by 
a  succession  of  rushing  rapids  and  long,  deep,  dark  pools. 
Its  banks  are  here  in  many  parts  densely  wooded,  and  with- 
out doubt  this  is  the  most  picturesque  part,  of  the  whole  of 
Nithsdale.  Indeed,  the  road  from  Sanquhar  to  Thornhill, 
which  runs  close  to  the  river  the  greater  part  of  the  way,  is 
one  of  the  most  charming  walks  or  drives  in  the  whole 
South  of  Scotland.  A  grand  and  most  commanding  view 
of  this  part  of  the  valley  can  be  obtained  from  the 
railway,  which  is  cut  out  of  the  hill-side  high  above 
the  bed  of  the  river,  and  travellers  whose  attention  may  be 
drawn  to  it  at  the  proper  moment  are  enthusiastic  in  their 
praise  of  the  charming  combination  of  woodland  and  stream. 
In  leafy  June  the  trees  overhanging  its  banks — oak,  birch, 
and  hazel,  with  many  a  bush  and  shrub  between — spread  a 
mantle  of  green  so  thick  as  almost  to  entirely  screen  the 
river  from  view,  as  it  tosses  and  foams  down  its  rocky 
channel  or  glides  slowly  along  smooth  deep  reaches;  but  in 
October  the  scene  has  a  fresh  charm,  for  the  trees  put  on 
their  autumn  tints,  and  the  eye  is  delighted  with  the  glory 
of  the  woods  with  all  their  endless  variety  of  brown  and  red. 
Nowhere  is  this  aspect  of  nature  to  be  witnessed  in  greater 
perfection  than  on  the  finely-wooded  estate  of  Eliock,  which, 
in  addition  to  its  plantations  of  larch  and  spruce,  possesses  a 
fair  stock  of  natural  woods.  The  first  notable  specimens  are 
a  pair  of  Scotch  firs  growing  at  the  road-side  close  to  the 
Lodge,  which  measure  nine  feet  round  the  base.  These  are 
typical  specimens  of  the  Scotch  fir,  being  straight  and  clean 
for  fifty  feet  from  the  ground,  and  surmounted  by  a  shaggy 

History  of  Sanquhar.  13 

head  of  dark  green  branches.  Close  to  them  stands  a  fine 
example  of  spruce,  of  the  same  girth,  and  100  feet  in  height. 
A  still  better  grown  specimen,  of  the  same  height,  but 
measuring  twelve  feet,  stands  majestically  in  front  of  Eliock 
House,  while  another,  even  more  stoutly  built,  tapes  172 
inches  round  the  butt.  A  splendid  ash  adorns  the  avenue, 
whose  wide-spreading  branches  cover  a  circle  seventy  feet  in 
diameter,  while  a  beech  is  not  far  distant  under  whose 
umbrageous  shade  a  very  large  party  might  find  shelter 
from  a  noon-day  sun,  the  area  embraced  being  240  feet  in 
circumference.  The  outlook  from  the  house,  of  noble  trees 
of  this  description,  has  a  singular  grace  lent  to  it  by  the 
magnificent  specimens  of  weeping  birch  which  are  scattered 
over  the  policies.  Individual  trees  of  this  variety  are  to  be 
seen  nine  feet  in  girth  and  80  feet  in  height.  They  are 
built  in  elegant  and  symmetrical  fashion,  and  form  a  beau- 
tiful feature  of  the  landscape.  These  birches  with  their 
spreading  branches,  from  which  hang  pendant  long  lace- 
like  tendrils,  are  an  engaging  sight  at  any  season,  but  when 
covered  with  hoar-frost  glistening  in  the  sunlight  of  a 
winter  morning  like  a  thousand  diamond  points  they  form  a 
brilliant  spectacle.  Perhaps  the  most  notable  of  all  in  the 
whole  woods,  however,  is  a  magnificent  row  of  silver  firs, 
seventeen  in  number,  which  stand  in  line  on  the  top  of  a 
slightly  raised  bank  not  far  from  the  house,  and  flanking  the 
main  park.  They  are,  without  exception,  grand  examples  of 
their  kind,  averaging  100  feet  in  height,  and,  standing 
shoulder  to  shoulder,  show  an  unbroken  mass  of  foliage  from 
one  end  to  the  other.  The  one  which  stands  at  the  eastern 
flank  of  the  line  slightly  over-tops  its  neighbours,  and 
measures  eighteen  feet  at  the  ground.  What  a  pity,  one 
feels,  that  they  had  not  been  planted  along  the  avenue, 
where  a  double  row  would  have  given  to  the  approach  to 
the  house  a  dignity  and  character  which  it  lacks.  Standing 
where  they  .do,  however,  they  look  stately  and  imposing 
when  viewed  from  a  little  distance.  A  little  way  up 

14  History  of  Sanquhar. 

the  hill  brings  us  into  a  part  of  the  wood  where  oaks 
grow  unusually  straight  and  clean.  One  shoots  up  like  an 
arrow  for  twenty  feet  from  the  ground,  and  is  fourteen  feet 
ill  girth.  Strange  to  say,  a  large  proportion  of  the  finer 
trees  on  this  estate  are  planted  in  out-of-the-way  situations, 
but  a  lover  of  forestry  will  find  himself  delighted  with  a 
ramble  through  the  woods. 

On  the  left  bank  of  the  river  farther  down  lies  dark 
Auchensell,  the  terror  of  all  travellers  by  road  in  the  olden 
time,  with  which  is  associated  many  a  story  of  highway 
robbery  and  of  uncanny  sights  to  be  there  seen  in  the  dark 
winter  nights.  These  traditions  and  superstitions  (for  the 
most  part  they  were  nothing  more)  have  given  way  before 
the  advance  of  education  and  enlightenment  ;  still  his  is  a 
stout  heart  which  does  not  beat  faster  as  he  finds  himself 
plunged  in  its  gloomy  depths.  On  the  slope  of  the  hill  near 
Auchensell  stands  the  ancient  Church  of  Kirkbride,  belonging 
to  the  pre-Reformation  period.  Kirkbride  was  long  a 
separate  parish.  It  lay  mainly  on  the  east  side  of  the  Nith, 
between  the  parishes  of  Sanquhar  and  Durisdeer,  but  there 
were  also  included  within  its  bounds  the  lands  of  Craigdar- 
roch,  Twenty-shilling,  Hawcleughside,  Rowantreeflat,  and 
Little  Mark,  all  on  the  estate  of  Eliock,  on  the  opposite  side 
of  the  water.  The  old  Church  is  beautifully  situated  on  the 
western  side  of  the  glen  of  Enterkin,  opposite  the  farm- 
house of  Cosh  ogle.  From  the  shoulder  of  the  ridge  imme- 
diately below  the  Church,  just  where  the  Nith  takes  a  sharp 
bend  in  its  course,  the  most  extensive  view  possible  of  the 
valley  is  to  be  obtained.  This  is  the  only  point,  unless  one 
climbs  to  a  great  height,  whence  Corsancone,  at  the  head  of 
the  valley,  on  the  borders  of  Ayrshire,  and  Criffel  overlooking 
the  Solway  at  the  mouth  of  the  river,  a  stretch  of  forty  miles 
can  be  taken  in  by  the  eye.  Crossing  to  the  opposite  side  of 
the  Nith,  and  looking  to  the  north-east  from  the  crest  of 
Drumlanrig  Ridge,  another  grand  and  most  striking  view  of 
the  ^district  is  to  be  had.  So  abruptly  does  the  Ridge  rise 

History  of  Sanquhar.  15 

from  the  water's  edge,  and  so  narrow  is  the  valley,  that  one 
feels  as  if  he  might  toss  a  stone  across  to  the  other  side  of 
the  glen.  The  lower  reaches  of  the  ground  are  spread  out 
beneath  the  feet  ;  the  comfortable  farm-houses  and  cottages 
with  which  the  country-side  is  dotted  can  be  easily  picked 
out,  and  every  little  ravine  and  bosky  dell  lies  plainly 
revealed  to  the  eye.  Immediately  opposite,  the  old  Kirk- 
bride  Kirk  stands,  as  has  been  said,  pleasantly  situated  on 
the  green  hill-side,  its  hoary  ruins  carrying  us  back  in 
memory  to  the  Reformation  period  and  the  times  of  the 
Covenant.  The  yawning  mouth  of  Enterkin  Pass  is  dark 
and  gloomy,  and  draws  the  eye  upwards  to  where  the  mighty 
Lowthers  lift  their  broad  shoulders  to  the  sky.  Eastward, 
the  Durisdeer  hills — on  the  one  side  of  the  Carron  soft  and 
green,  and  on  the  other  black  and  frowning — show  us  in  the 
back-ground  the  opening  of  the  famous  Dalveen  Pass  and 
the  Wall  path,  while  to  the  south  the  valley  of  the  Nith  is 
spread  out  in  panoramic  beauty,  forming  a  picture  that  the 
eye  delights  to  rest  upon.  Nowhere  in  the  southern  highlands 
can  a  scene  be  viewed  of  such  an  extensive  range,  and  embrac- 
ing such  contrasts  of  rugged  mountain  and  gloomy  pass,  rolling 
upland  and  fruitful  field,  trickling  rivulet  and  burn,  fringed 
with  birch  and  hazel,  moss  and  fern,  and  broad-bosomed  river 
sweeping  through  rich  woodland  and  meadow. 

On  the  translation  in  1727  of  Peter  Rae,  its  last  minister, 
and  a  famous  man  of  his  time,  to  Kirkconnel,  Kirkbride 
was  merged  by  the  Lords  Commissioners  of  Teinds  in  the 
neighbouring  parishes  of  Sanquhar  and  Durisdeer.  The 
Water  of  Mennock  having  been  the  boundary  between  Kirk- 
bride  and  Sauquhar,  it  was  at  this  time  that  Dalpeddar, 
Glenim,  and  a  small  portion  of  Coshogle  were  added  to  the 
latter  parish.  The  Auld  Kirk  of  St.  Bride  had  long  been 
regarded  by  the  country  folks  as  a  particularly  holy  spot  : 
the  disjunction  of  the  parish,  therefore,  caused  a  considerable 
feeling  of  resentment,  and  burials  were  continued  in  the 
Kirkyard  long  after  religious  service  in  the  Church  had 

16  History  of  Sanquhar. 

ceased — indeed,  burials  still  occur,  at  rare  intervals,  of  people 
who  have  long  been  connected  with  the  district,  and  whose 
ancestors  lie  in  this  "  bonnie  Kirkyard."  The  ruins  of  the 
Kirk  continued  to  be  held  in  great  veneration,  and  according 
to  the  superstitious  notions  of  the  age  no  good  could  come  to 
anyone  who  interfered  with  the  sacred  fabric.  As  an  example 
of  this,  it  was  firmly  believed  that  the  untimely  death  of  the 
redoubtable  Abraham  Crichton,  Provost  of  Sanquhar,  who 
fell  from  his  horse  at  Dalpeddar  and  broke  his  neck,  was  to 
be  attributed  to  the  fact  that  he  had  impiously  threatened 
to  destroy  the  ancient  edifice,  declaring  "  I'll  sime  ding  doon 
the  Whigs'  sanctuary."  For  some  time  after  his  burial  in 
Sanquhar  Churchyard  his  troubled  spirit  moved  abroad,  and 
was  a  terror  to  the  young  girls,  at  whom  it  grinned  over  the 
Kirkyard  dyke  as  they  passed  to  the  milking  of  their  cows. 
At  last  these  cantrips  could  be  no  longer  endured,  and,  after 
a  chain  had  been  fixed  over  his  grave  to  keep  him  down,  but 
without  effect,  more  spiritual  means  were  adopted,  and  the 
services  of  an  eminently  godly  man,  the  Rev.  Mr  Hunter  of 
Penpont,  were  invoked.  This  worthy  minister  had  "personal 
dealings "  with  the  ghost.  Whether  the  restless  spirit 
found  peace  by  a  full  confession  of  sins  committed  while  in 
the  body,  or  whether  it  was  rebuked  with  authority  and 
power  by  this  man  of  God,  and  commanded  to  forsake  for 
ever  the  realms  of  the  living,  and  confine  itself  to  its  own 
native  shades,  can  never  be  known.  No  mortal  ear  listened 
to  the  solemn  interview,  but  the  palpitating  hearts  of  the 
maidens  were  composed,  and  Abraham's  ghost  ceased  from 
troubling.  For  the  last  twenty  years  or  so,  from  time  to 
time,  an  open-air  sermon  has  been  preached  at  Kirkbride  on 
the  first  Sabbath  of  July,  in  commemoration  of  the  Cove- 
nanters' struggle,  and  with  the  object  of  raising  funds  for'the 
repair  of  the  Churchyard  wall,  which  was  fast  becoming 
dilapidated.  An  occasional  sermon  was  preached  prior  to 
that  period,  for  Dr  (then  Mr)  Simpson,  of  Sanquhar,  the 
historian  of  the  Covenanters,  did  preach  at  the  Auld  Kirk 

History  of  Sanquhar.  17 

about  sixty  years  ago.  The  choice  of  a  suitable  text  caused 
the  preacher  much  concern,  and  during  a  walk  with  Dr 
Purdie,  with  whom,  being  still  unmarried,  he  then  lodged, 
he  said  that  he  had  searched  diligently,  but  could  not  fix 
upon  one  that  satisfied  him.  •'  Aye,  man,  Robert," 
answered  the  Doctor,  "  there's  surely  no  mickle  in  yer 
heid.  What  do  you  think  of  this  for  your  text,  "  Our 
fathers  worshipped  in  this  mountain  ? "  "  Oh,  man,"  replied 
the  minister,  "  that's  the  very  thing,  Doctor  ;  "  and  upon 
these  suggestive  words  he,  when  the  day  came,  preached 
what  was  then  described  as  a  grand  sermon,  and  which  was 
held  in  remembrance  in  the  countryside  for  many  a  day. 

The  Pass  of  Enterkin,  which  here  runs  into  the  Nith 
valley,  with  its  wildness  and  solitude,  was  visited  by  Dr  John 
Brown,  of  Edinburgh,  the  author  of  "  Rab  and  His  Friends," 
who  wrote  the  following  description  of  it.  It  will  be  well, 
however,  to  explain  that  Dr  Brown  descended  the  glen — 
contrary  to  the  usual  practice,  which  is  to  ascend — lest  any 
visitor  should,  after  reading  the  description,  experience  the 
same  perplexity  that  befel  a  traveller,  who  ascended,  in 
identifying  its  features  as  therein  given.  He  was  about  to 
conclude  that  the  paper  more  correctly  represented  the  fertile 
imagination  of  the  writer  than  the  actual  facts,  when  the 
thought  flashed  upon  him  that  he  might  be  traversing  the 
scene  in  the  opposite  direction  to  that  followed  by  the 
learned  doctor.  Having  reached  the  top,  he  retraced  his 
steps,  and  then  all  was  plain  and  intelligible  : — 

"  We  are  now  nearing  the  famous  Enterkin  Pass  ;  a  few  steps  and  you 
are  on  its  edge,  looking  down  giddy  and  amazed  into  its  sudden  and 
immense  depths.  We  have  seen  many  of  our  most  remarkable  glens  and 
mountain  gorges — Glencroe  and  Glencoe — Glen  Nevis,  the  noblest  of  them 
all — the  Sma'  Glen,  Wordsworth's  Glen  Almain  (Gleualmond),  where 
Ossian  sleeps,  the  lower  part  of  Glen  Lyon,  and  many  others  of  all  kinds 
of  sublimity  and  beauty — but  we  know  nothing  more  noticeable,  more 
unlike  any  other  place,  more  impressive  than  this  short,  deep,  narrow, 
and  sudden  glen.  There  is  only  room  for  its  own  stream  at  its  bottom, 
and  the  sides  rise  in  one  smooth  and  all  but  perpendicular  ascent  to  the 
height,  on  the  left,  of  1895,  Thirstane  Hill,  and  on  the  right  of  1875,  the 


18  History  of  Sanguhar. 

exquisitely  moulded  Stey  Gail  or  Steep  Gable — so  steep  that  it  is  no  easy 
matter  keeping  your  feet,  and  if  you  slip  you  might  just  as  well  go  over  a 
bona-fide  mural  precipice.  This  sense  of  personal  fear  has  a  fairly  ideal- 
istic effect  upon  the  mind,  makes  it  impressionable  and  soft,  and  greatly 
promotes  the  after  enjoyment  of  the  visit.  The  aforesaid  Stey  Gail  makes 
one  dizzy  to  look  at  it — such  an  expanse  of  sheer  descent.  If  a  sheep  dies 
when  on  its  side,  it  never  lies  still,  but  tumbles  down  into  the  biirn  ;  and 
when  we  were  told  that  Grierson  of  Lag  once  rode  at  full  gallop  along  its 
slope  after  a  fox,  one  feels  it  necessary  to  believe  that  either  he  or  his 
horse  were  of  Satanic  lineage.  No  canny  man  or  horse  could  do  this  and 

"After  our  first  surprise,  we  were  greatly  struck  with  the  likeness  of  the 
place  to  a  picture  of  it  by  Mr  Harvey,  exhibited  in  our  Academy  in  1846, 
and  now  in  Mr  Campbell  of  Blythswood's  collection.  This  was  one  of  this 
great  painter's  first  landscapes,  and  gives  the  spirit,  the  idea  of  the  place 
with  wonderful  truth  and  beauty — its  solemnity  and  loneliness,  its  still 
power,  its  gentle  gloom,  its  depth  and  height,  its  unity,  its  sacred  peace. 
'  It  is  not  quiet,  is  not  ease, 

But  something  deeper  far  than  these  ; 

The  separation  that  is  here 

Is  of  the  grave  ;  and  of  austere 

Yet  happy  feeling  of  the  dead.' 

We  have  heard  that  the  artist,  who  sat  alone  for  hours  sketching,  got  so 
eerie,  so  overpowered  with  the  loneliness  and    silence    that  he  relieved 
himself  from  time  to  time  by  loud  shouts,  and  was  glad  to  hear  his  own 
voice  or  anything.     It  must  be  a  wonderful  place  to  be  alone  in  on  a  mid- 
summer's midnight,  or  at  its  not  less  bewitching  noon. 
'  In  such  a  glen  as  this,  on  such  a  day, 
A  poet  might  in  solitude  recline  ; 
And,  while  the  hours  unheeded  stole  away, 
Gather  rich  fancies  in  the  art  divine  : 
Great  thoughts  that  float  through  Nature's  silent  air, 
And  fill  the  soul  with  hope,  and  love,  and  prayer.'  " 

This  Entevkin  Pass  is  cut  deep  into  the  great  range  of 
mountains  which,  encircling  the  northern  border  of  the 
County  of  Dumfries,  culminate  overhead  in  the  Lowthers,  a 
great  and  imposing  mass.  From  the  summit  of  the  Lowthers, 
at  a  height  of  2400  feet;  a  view  is  to  be  obtained  unsurpassed 
in  its  range  and  its  diversity  of  feature.  It  comprehends  the 
greater  part  of  the  southern  counties  of  Scotland.  The 
valleys  of  the  Nith  arid  the  Annan  lie  under  the  fe£t,  spread 
out  in  all  their  expanse  of  cultivated  beauty  ;  the  head 

History  of  Sa  nqukar.  \  y 

waters  of  the  Tweed  and  Clyde  are  seen  starting  as  little 
trickling  rills  on  their  journey  to  the  sea  ;  the  dark  brow  of 
Skiddaw  is  visible  as  he  stands  head  and  shoulders  above 
the  mighty  group  by  which  he  is  surrounded,  and  which  do 
him  reverence  ;  while  to  the  west  the  hills  of  Galloway 
stretch  away  like  a  billowy  sea  as  far  as  the  eye  can  reach. 
.  The  extensive  panorama  also  includes  the  Firth  of  Clyde 
and  Goatfell,  and  the  mighty  Ben  Lomond.  The  view, 
whether  for  extent  or  magnificence,  undoubtedly  rivals  that 
to  be  obtained  from  any  of  the  loftiest  eminences  in  the 
whole  kingdom. 

In  the  superstitious  times,  reaching  down  to  a  compara- 
tively recent  period,  the  right  of  Christian  burial  was  denied 
to  suicides,  and  the  corpse  was  dragged  with  every  circum- 
stance of  ignominy  and  disgrace  to  some  lonely  spot,  as  if 
the  poor  creature  were  an  outcast  from  both  heaven  and 
earth.  For  this  purpose  the  summit  of  the  Lowthers,  which, 
being  on  the  boundaries  of  two  counties,  and  also  of  the 
lands  of  three  lairds,  was  regarded  as  a  sort  of  "  No  man's 
land,"  was  a  place  chosen  for  the  burial  of  suicides.  The 
scene  is  depicted  with  graphic  power  by  Dr  John  Brown  in 
his  interesting  paper  on  "  Euterkin  "  thus  : — 

"The  bodies  were  brought  from  great  distances  all  round,  and,  in 
accordance  with  the  dark  superstitions  of  the  time,  the  unblest  corpse  was 
treated  with  curious  indignity — no  dressing  with  grave-clothes,  no  atrie.kmy 
of  the  pitiful  limbs — the  body  was  thrust  with  the  clothes  it  was  found  in 
into  a  rude  box,  not  even  shaped  like  a  coffin,  and  hurried  away  on  some 
old  shattered  cart  or  sledge  with  ropes  for  harness.  One  can  imagine  the 
miserable  procession  as  it  slunk,  often  during  night,  through  the  villages, 
and  past  the  farmsteads,  every  one  turning  from  it  as  abhorred.  Then, 
arrived  at  this  high  and  desolate  region,  the  horse  was  taken  out,  and  the 
weary  burden  dragged  with  pain  up  to  its  resting  place,  carried  head- 
foremost as  in  despite  ;  then  a  shallow  hole  dug,  and  the  long  uncouth  box 
pushed  in  — the  cart  and  harness  left  to  rot  as  accursed.  The  white  human 
bones  may  sometimes  be  seen  among  the  thick,  short  grass  ;  and  one  that 
was  there  more  than  fifty  years  ago  remembers,  with  a  shudder  still, 
coming — when  crossing  that  hill-top — upon  a  small  outstretched  hand,  as 
of  one  crying  from  the  ground ;  this  one  little  hand,  with  its  thin  fingers 
held  up  to  heaven,  as  if  in  agony  of  supplication  or  despair.  What  a  sight 
seen  against  the  spotless  sky,  or  crossing  the  disc  of  the  waning  moon  !" 

20  History  of  Sanqukar. 

And  what  a  commentary  upon  that  harsh,  stern  time.  A 
very  striking  example  of  how,  actuated  by  a  supposed 
religious  feeling,  men  will  be  guilty  of  acts  which  we  now 
hold  to  be  an  outrage  upon  natural  feeling  and  a  denial  of 
all  Christian  charity  ;  for  there  is  little  doubt  that  a  false 
religious  sentiment  underlay  the  harsh  and  contemptuous 
treatment  to  which  the  corpse  of  the  poor  unfortunate  who> 
bereft  of  reason,  took  his  life  into  his  own  hands,  was  sub- 
jected. Trained  in  a  hard  Calvinistic  creed,  the  men  of  that 
age  regarded  the  taking  of  one's  own  life  as  an  interference 
with  God's  decree,  and,  therefore,  as  one  of  the  most  impious 
acts  before  high  heaven  of  which  a  human  being  could  be 
guilty.  But  they  must  not  be  judged  too  quickly  when  we 
consider  how  short  is  the  time  since  an  enlightened  medical 
science,  with  a  better  understanding  of  the  philosophy  of  the 
human  mind,  first  taught  us  that  these  poor  creatures  were 
proper  objects,  not  of  hatred  and  scorn,  but  of  loving  and 
tender  consideration,  and  to  turn  our  lunatic  asylums  from 
what  they  had  hitherto  been,  penal  settlements,  whose 
miserable  inmates  were  subjected  to  cruelties  of  a  fearful 
kind,  into  institutions  where  they  should  be  regarded  with 
Christian  pity  and  sympathy,  and  no  effort  spared  to  irradiate 
their  dark  and  disordered  intellects  with  light  and  cheerful- 

From  the  summit  of  the  Braeheads,  to  which  reference 
has  been  made,  the  ground  stretches  back  for  the  distance  of 
half  a  mile,  and  on  this  plateau  the  town  of  Sanquhar  stands. 
Immediately  behind  the  town,  the  ground  Takes  a  sudden 
rise  till  it  reaches  a  height  of  between  700  and  800  feet, 
.whence  it  stretches  right  away  to  the  base  of  the  mountain 
range  which  runs  along  the  northern  boundary  of  the  county. 

The  tributaries  of  the  Nith  on  the  east  side  are  Crawick ' 
and    Mennock.     Mr   Glenuie,   in    his    "  Arthuriana,"    which 
treats  of  matters  connected  with  the  half-mythical,  half -real 
character,  King  Arthur,  thinks  that  there  are  traces  of  his 
presence   in   this   district.       In   the    "  Book    of  Taliessin " 

History  of  Sanqukar.  21 

meation  is  made  of  Caer  Ry  we,  probably  referring  to  Crawick, 
a  name  formed  from  Caer  Rawick.  Crawick,  as  has  already 
been  said,  forms  the  boundary  between  the  parishes  of 
Sanquhar  and  Kirkconnel.  It  rises  among  the  hills,  eight 
miles  or  thereby  to  the  north-east.  At  first  a  tiny  rivulet, 
it  runs  only  a  short  distance  till  it  assumes  the  dimensions  of 
/'&,  considerable  stream,  by  the  accession  at  the  same  point  of 
two  tributaries — Spango,  from  the  west,  and  Wanlock  from 
the  east.  The  rocks  in  the  district  watered  by  Crawick  and 
Mennock  are  blue  whinstoue,  and  as  scarcely  any  of  the 
surrounding  lands  are  cultivated,  but  are  chiefly  pastoral 
hills,  the  water  of  both  is  particularly  clear,  and  where  broken 
and  fretted  by  obstructing  rock  is  lashed  into  foam  of  snowy 
whiteness.  While  Crawick  itself,  in  its  upper  part,  presents 
no  features  of  any  particular  interest,  the  fall  in  its  course 
being  very  gentle  and  gradual,  the  glen  deserves  more  than 
a  passing  notice,  both  for  its  physical  features  and  on  histori- 
cal grounds.  In  descending  the  glen,  the  eye  is  first  arrested 
by  the  bold  face  of  Craignorth,  a  precipitous  hill  rising  from 
the  bed  of  the  stream  to  a  great  height.  There  is  a  story 
connected  with  this  hill,  which,  like  many  another  from  that 
period,  makes  considerable  demands  upon  one's  credulity. 
It  is  alleged  that,  on  one  occasion,  when  a  Covenanter  was 
being  hotly  pursued  by  Claverhouse,  "  the  bloody  Clavers," 
as  he  was  accustomed  to  be  called  by  the  "  persecuted  flock," 
and  could  find  no  place  of  retreat  where  he  could  secrete  him- 
self, turned  his  footsteps  towards  Craiguorth,  and  sought  to 
put  a  stop  to  the  pursuit  by  picking  his  way  around  the  hill 
face.  Claverhouse,  who  was  pressing  him  hard,  never  hesi- 
tated for  a  moment,  so  the  story  goes,  but  rode  his  horse 
round  the  perilous  slope.  A  dare-devil  ride  certainly,  and 
requiring  more  than  human  courage,  but  it  is  incredible  ; 
only  it  is  just  the  sort  of  performance  which  is  likely  to  be 
attributed  by  the  Covenanting  party  to  one  whom  they 
regarded  as  in  league  with  the  Evil  One. 

The  Crawick  glen  is  deep  and  narrow,  as  are  all  the  glens 

22  History  of  Sanquhan 

of  this  district,  there  being  space  at  the  bottom  for  nothing 
but  the  road  and  the  stream.  The  hills  on  either  side  are  of 
considerable  height,  and  at  various  points  present  to  the  eye 
combinations  at  once  striking  and  picturesque.  A  compre- 
hensive view  of  the  beauties  of  the  glen  is  to  be  obtained 
from  the  eastern  side  of  Knockenhair,  which  is  itself  one  of 
the  most  remarkable  features  of  the  locality.  It  is  a  conical- 
shaped  hill,  the  sloping  edge  of  both  sides  being  of  great 
regularity  and  terminating  in  a  sharp  peak,  which  is  sur- 
mounted by  a  cairn.  It  stands  alone,  too,  being  quite 
detached  from  any  of  the  hills  by  which  it  is  surrounded,  its 
appearance  giving  the  suggestion  of  volcanic  origin.  The 
top  of  Knockenhair  has  always  been  a  favourite  site  for  a 
bonfire  on  the  occasion  of  public  rejoicings.  The  last  instance 
of  the  kind  was  on  the'comiug  of  age  of  Lord  Eskdaill,  son 
and  heir  of  the  then  Earl  of  Dalkeith  and  present  Duke  of 
Buccleuch,  who  lost  his  life  not  long  after  by  the  accidental 
discharge  of  his  gun  while  out  deer-stalking  in  the  Lochiel 
country.  This  hill  is  so  situated  in  the  valley  that  from  its 
summit  a  view  can  be  obtained  of  the  entire  course  of  the 
Nith  through  Dumfriesshire,  and  also,  on  a  favourable  day, 
of  the  Cumberland  hills  on  the  far  side  of  the  Solway,  with 
the  waters  of  the  Firth  gleaming  in  the  sunshine  between. 

On  the  opposite  side  of  the  glen  from  Knockenhair  stands 
Carco  Hill,  one  of  the  loftiest  eminences,  and  of  almost  equal 
height  with  the  Bale  Hill,  a  little  farther  west.  Along  the 
base  of  Carco  Hill  runs  the  Orchard  Burn,  where  is  to  be 
seen  an  unique  specimen  of  boulder.  It  is  of  enormous  size, 
many  tons  in  weight,  and  is  a  rare  specimen  of  the  boulders 
or  rolling-stones,  which  are  supposed  by  geologists  to  have 
been  transported  on  the  ice  during  the  glacial  period,  and 
deposited  in  out-of-the-way  places.  To  use  a  popular 
Sanquhar  phrase,  this  is  an  "  in-comer,"  not  belonging 
originally  to  the  locality,  but,  if  its  size  and  situation  be  taken 
into  account,  it  is  likely  bo  remain  where  it  is,  undisturbed. 
From  the  foot  of  the  Orchard  Burn  the  interest  and  beautv 

History  of  Sanfjuhar.  23 

of  the  glen  increase,  as  the  stream  flows  onward  and  enters 
Nithsdale  proper.  It  falls  more  rapidly  as  it  nears  the 
termination  of  its  course,  the  channel  becomes  exceedingly 
strait  and  rocky,  and  the  banks  are  adorned  with  a  profusion 
of  natural  wood.  The  natural  beauties  of  this  section  have 
been  enhanced,  too,  by  the  hand  of  man.  Here  the  Duke  of 
Buccleuch  has  rendered  a  valuable  service  to  the  public  by 
filling  up  with  plantations  the  portions  which  were  bare, 
thus  giving  a  completeness  to  the  picture.  Further,  he  has 
constructed  footpaths  along  both  banks  of  the  stream  ;  and 
bridges  at  the  top  and  bottom  give  the  freest  access  to 
visitors  to  view  a  scene,  romantic  and  beautiful.  For  there 
is  no  restriction  to  these  charming  walks,  known  as  the 
'•  Holm  walks,"  so  called  from  being  in  proximity  to  the 
Holm  house,  which,  with  its  grounds,  was  originally  a 
separate  estate  from  the  surrounding  lands  of  His  Grace,  and 
was  purchased  by  the  Duke  from  its  owner,  a  Mr  Macnab. 
The  lands  on  the  southern  bank,  mentioned  as  having  been 
planted,  were  held  in  lease  by  Mr  Macnab  from  the  Burgh 
of  Sanqnhar,  and  this  lease  was  acquired  at  the  same  time 
by  the  Duke. 

These  Holm  walks  are  justly  esteemed  the  most  charming 
retreat  in  a  district  singularly  well-favoured  in  this  respect. 
They  wind  up  and  down  and  in  and  out  on  the  ledge  of  the 
rocky  channel,  and  advantage  has  been  taken  of  crowning 
knoll  and  shady  nook  to  plant  seats,  where  visitors  can  rest, 
and,  sheltered  at  once  from  the  scorching  sun  and  from  every 
wind  that  blows,  have  eye  and  ear  refreshed  with  a  display 
of  nature's  choicest  works.  In  this  quiet  hiding  place,  it  is 
said,  Lord  Douglas  lay  after  his  rapid  march,  with  the  view 
of  surprising  and  capturing  the  Castle  of  Sanquhar,  which 
was  then  in  the  hands  of  the  English.  Here  he  left  his 
gallant  band  of  followers  till  a  little  reconnoitring  work  was 
done,  and  a  plan  of  attack  was  resolved  upon.  A.  fuller 
treatment  of  this  incident  is  reserved  for  its  proper  place. 
Descending,  the  stream  makes  a  sweep  round  to  the  left 

24  History  of  Sanquhar. 

behind  the  Holm  house,  which  is  pleasantly  situated  at  the 
head  of  a  pretty  little  stretch  of  holm  land,  whence  probably 
it  derives  its  name.  The  house  is  shut  in  from  view  on  all 
sides  by  the  rising  ground,  except  in  the  front,  where  the 
outlook  is  through  a  narrow  vista  away  to  the  sources  of 
Kello  and  Euchan,  on  the  other  side  of  the  valley  of  the  Nith. 
Crawick  then  glides  smoothly  past  the  Lawers  Braes,  and 
passing  on  the  left  the  village  of  Crawick,  with  its  woollen 
factory,  corn-mill,  and  forge,  for  which  it  supplies  the  motive 
power,  it  heads  straight  for  Nith,  into  which  it  falls  a  little 
farther  down. 

Mennock,  the  other  tributary  of  Nith,  on  the  left  bank, 
runs  almost  parallel  with  Crawick,  three  miles  farther  south. 
It  has  a  course  of  about  six  miles,  rising  near  to  Wanlock- 
head,  a  mining  village  on  the  very  borders  of  the  parish  and 
the  county.  The  narrow  glen  through  which  it  finds  its  way 
to  Nithsdale  presents  features  of  a  distinctly  different  type  to 
those  of  Crawick.  While  the  other  glens  in  the  district  are 
soft  and  pleasing  to  the  eye,  the  hills  being  covered  with  a 
rich  verdure  from  base  to  summit,  the  mountains,  for  so  they 
must  be  called,  which  tower  up  on  either  side  the  narrow 
goi'ge  of  Mennock  are  dark,  stern,  and  rugged,  and  the 
scenery  is  truly  of  an  impressive  grandeur. 

About  two  miles  south  of  Sanquhar,  a  country  road,  leaving 
the  Nithsdale  main  highway,  ascends  the  Mennock,  and 
crossing  the  watershed  of  the  two  counties  of  Dumfries  and 
Lanark,  proceeds  by  way  of  Leadhills,  whence  falling  towards 
the  upper  valley  of  the  Clyde,  it  joins  the  great  road  between 
Carlisle  and  Edinburgh  and  Glasgow  at  Abington.  For  some 
distance  the  road  pursues  a  general  level,  winding  round  the 
base  of  hill  after  hill,  which  slope  down  to  the  very  bed  of 
the  stream,  and  offer  at  many  points  an  apparently  insuper- 
able barrier  to  all  further  progress.  At  one  place  the  atten- 
tion is  arrested  by  a  view  probably  unequalled  in  its  unique 
peculiarity.  Four  hills,  two  on  each  side  of  the  glen,  slope 
down  alternately  one  behind  the  other,  the  outlines  of  the 

History  of  Sanquhar.  25 

pair  on  each  side  being  almost  exactly  parallel.  When  the 
foot  of  Glenclauch  Brae  is  reached,  the  toilsome  ascent  begins, 
and  after  the  Lang-muir-side — a  long  level  track  high  above 
the  bed  of  the  stream — -has  been  traversed,  the  rise  is  rapid 
and  continuous,  and,  just  before  Wanlockhead  is  reached,  the 
road  passes  through  the  "  Hass,"  which  frequently  in  winter 
is  blocked  up  with  snow.  In  truth,  so  high  and  wild  is  this 
Mennock  road  that  in  winter  it  is  no  uncommon  occurrence 
for  vehicular  traffic  to  be  entirely  suspended,  leaving  the  tele- 
graph as  the  only  mode  of  communication  with  the  outer 
world  available  to  the  inhabitants  of  Wanlockhead.  In 
the  summer  season,  however,  its  alpine  scenery  makes  it  one 
of  the  finest  drives  in  the  district,  presenting,  as  it  does, 
features  of  wild  grandeur  and  peculiar  configuration  of  hill 
not  surpassed  even  in  the  western  highlands.  Some  years 
ago  it  was  visited  by  one  who  had  travelled  much,  and  his 
attention  was  arrested  by  the  wonderful  resemblance  of  this 
road  to  that  leading  up  to  Jerusalem.  The  same  impression 
has  been  made  since  on  the  minds  of  others  who  had  made 
the  toilsome  ascent  from  Joppa  to  the  Holy  City.  Wanlock- 
head comes  into  sight  quite  suddenly  and  unexpectedly. 
For  miles  no  human  dwelling  has  been  visible,  nor  sound 
heard  save  the  murmur  of  the  stream,  the  bleating  of  the 
sheep,  and  the  whirr  of  the  grouse  or  blackcock  as,  on  strong 
wing,  he  sweeps  across  the  glen  and  drops  out  of  sight  among 
the  deep  heather  which  covers  the  mountain  sides.  The 
existence  of  a  village  in  such  an  out-of- the- world  region  is 
due  entirely  to  the  mineral  wealth  of  the  surrounding  hills, 
which,  though  black  and  barren  on  the  surface,  and  sustain- 
ing only  a  few  sheep,  contain  within  their  bowels  rich  deposits 
of  lead. 

From  behind  the  Black  Hill,  which  overlooks  Wanlock- 
head, another  glen,  "  Gleudyne,"  runs  down  to  the  upland 
which  lies  along  the  north-east  side  of  the  valley  of  the  Nith. 
This  glen  also  well  deserves  a  visit  :  indeed,  it  has  often  been 
said  that  had  Dr  Brown,  instead  of  descending  Enterkin, 


26  History  of  Sanquhar. 

taken  Glendyne,  he  would  have  been  no  less  impressed  with 
the  solemn  grandeur  of  the  scene.  The  only  road  is  a  narrow 
footpath  worn  along  the  face  of  the  hill  side.  So  steep  is 
the  descent  that  the  utmost  care  is  necessary  to  prevent 
serious  mishap.  If  a  stone  from  the  path  be  loosened  by  the 
foot  it  rolls  swiftly  down,  and  then,  with  a  succession  of 
mighty  bounds,  dashes  itself  into  the  burn  which  winds  along 
the  bottom  like  a  silver  thread.  As  the  traveller  descends, 
the  face  of  the  hills  on  the  two  sides  continues  to  be  quite 
precipitous,  the  wonder  being  that  even  the  sheep  can  main- 
tain their  foothold  ;  but  suddenly  the  opening  is  reached, 
and  with  a  fine  sweep  the  beautiful  glen  loses  itself  in  the 
broad  expanse  of  brown  moorland.  This  moorland  is  a 
high  table-land  stretching  along  the  north-east  of  the  town 
of  Sanquhar,  four  miles  in  length  and  two  miles  in  breadth, 
and  as  it  is  traversed  by  road  and  path  in  various  directions, 
the  invigorating  breezes  which  play  over  its  surface  draw 
thither  those  who  are  in  quest  of  health.  It  is  pierced  by 
the  pretty  little  glen  of  Lochburn,  a  tributary  of  Mennock, 
the  clear  water  of  which,  diverted  at  a  point  three  miles 
from  the  town  provide,  after  it  has  been  filtered,  an  excellent 
domestic  supply.  The  portion  of  the  moorland  which  over- 
looks Sanquhar  is  the  property  of  the  Corporation,  and  is 
reached  by  a  steep  ascent  called  Matthew's  Folly,  where 
numerous  seats  have  been  provided  for  the  convenience  of 
visitors.  These  seats,  and  others  placed  here  and  there  by 
the  waysides,  were  erected  out  of  the  balance  of  the  fund 
which  was  raised  for  the  celebration  of  the  Queen's  Jubilee 
in  1887.  From  the  top  of  Matthew's  Folly  a  splendid  view 
of  the  valley  for  a  length  of  over  twenty  miles  is  obtained, 
and  being  so  close  at  hand  it  is  much  frequented  with  this 
object.  The  Moor  farm,  belonging  to  the  town,  is  let  on 
lease.  At  one  time  it  brought  a  rent  of  £190,  but  like  all 
other  land  it  has  fallen  of  recent  years  in  value,  and  now  the 
rent  is  only  £112.  That,  however,  forms  an  important — in 
fact,  the  only  important — part  of  the  town's  revenue  since  the 

History  of  Sauquhar.  27 

abolition  of  "  Customs  "  in  1889.  Any  further  reference  to 
this  and  other  allied  topics  is  reserved  for  the  chapter  deal- 
ing with  the  municipal  history  of  the  place. 

The  chief  eminences  in  the  neighbourhood  are — Dalpeddar, 
1291  ;  Brownhill,  1544  ;  Lowther,  2377  ;  Auchenlone,  2068  ; 
Oaignorth,  1386  ;  Auchinsow,  1378  ;  Black  Lorg,  2231  feet. 


,  » 

A  sample  of  the  water  of  this  well  was  sent  several 
years  ago  to  Professor  Penney,  of  the  Andersonian  Uni- 
versity, Glasgow,  who  reported  on  it  as  follows  : — "  This 
water  is  specially  characterised  by  the  notable  quantity 
of  iron  which  it  contains.  All  the  substances  in- 
cluded in  the  analyses  exist  in  the  water  in  a  state  of 
perfect  solution  ;  the  water  is  clear,  bright,  and  nearly 
colourless,  shewing  that  the  ferruginous  ingredient  is  per- 
fectly dissolved.  It  has  a  styptic  and  astringent  taste,  and 
affords  abundance  of  evidence  of  the  presence  of  iron  on  the 
application  of  appropriate  tests.  The  iron  exists  in  the 
water  in  the  form  of  the  compound  called  the  carbonate  of 
iron,  which  consists  of  carbonic  acid  in  combination  with  the 
protoxide  of  the  metal.  The  tonic  astringent,  and  other 
medical  qualities  of  chalybeate  waters,  are  too  well  recognised 
and  appreciated  by  medical  men  to  require  notice  in  a 
chemical  report.  These  waters  are  by  no  means  uncommon. 
In  regard  to  therapeutic  strength,  or  medicinal  power,  as 
estimated  from  the  amount  of  iron  it  contains,  the  Sanquhar 
chalybeate  is  about  one-half  the  strength  of  Harrogate, 
Tunbridge,  and  Hartfell  Spa  waters,  which,  with  the  excep- 
tion of  Cheltenham  water,  are  the  strongest  of  those  above 
mentioned.  This,  therefore,  is  not  a  strong  chalybeate,  but 
from  the  perfect  solution  in  which  the  iron  exists,  and  from 
the  purity  of  the  water,  it  is,  in  my  opinion,  well  worth  the 

28  History  of  Sanquhar. 

attention  of  medical  men."  Professor  Christison  thus  ex- 
presses his  view  : — "  The  water  is  calculated  to  be  service- 
able in  all  diseases  for  which  simple  chalybeate  springs  are 
at  present  resorted  to  with  success."  The  following  is 
Professor  Penney 's  analysis  in  detail : — 

An  imperial  gallon  of  this  water  contains  14'710  grains  of  solid  matter, 

consisting  of  the  following  ingredients  : — 

Grains  per  Gallon. 
Carbonate  of  Iron 2-335 

Carbonate  of  Lime  ...         ...         . .          ...         ...  5  '650 

Carbonate  of  Magnesia      ...         ..          ...         ...  0*650 

Sulphate  of  Lime 0'600 

Chlorides  of  Potassium  and  Sodium       ...         ...  1-025 

Chloride  of  Magnesium     ...         ...         ...         ...  Traces. 

Phosphates  ...         ...         ...         ...         ...         ...  ,, 

Organic  Matter       3'550 

Silica...  0-900 


Specific  Gravity      1-00044 

Degree  of  Hardness  ...         ...         ...          ..     10° 

Gases  Dissolved  in  the  Water — 

Cubic  Inches  per  Gallon.        Per  Cent 
Carbonic  Acid        10 '020  60 '253 

Oxygen        T795  10'793 

Nitrogen      4-815  28'954 

16-630  100 



)N  setting  before  the  reader  the  antiquities  that  have 
been  discovered  in  the  neighbourhood  by  the  industry 
of  persons  of  antiquarian  tastes,  chief  among  whom 
is  Mr  J.  R.  Wilson,  of  the  Royal  Bank,  it  has  been 
thought  fitting  to  put  these  in  the  form  of  a  descrip- 
tive catalogue,  as  being  probably  the  most  convenient. 

1.  Saen   Gaer :    The   old   fort. — Perhaps  the  one  object 
which  connects  with  the  very  earliest  history  of  the  place  is 
this  ancient  British  fort,  from  which  the  name  of  the  town, 
as  elsewhere  stated,  is  derived.     It  is  situated  on  the  farm 
of  Broomfield,  overlooking  Welltrees  Meadow  and  the  rail- 
way embankment,  under  which  lies  the  old  well  of  St.  Bride. 
The  trench  on  the  north  side  of  the  fort  is  distinctly  visible, 
being  a  small  natural  ravine,  and  the  circumference  can 
easily  be  traced,  more  especially  when  the  land  is  in  crop, 
for  then  the  circle  of  luxuriant  fertility  is  distinctly  marked. 

2.  St.  Bride's   Well. — Although  this   ancient  well  is    no 
longer  visible,  it  merits  a  passing  notice.     Simpson  regards 
the  name  St.  Bride  as  another  form  of  St.  Bridget,  an  Irish 
saint,  who  had  for  attendants   nine  virgins.       "  She    was 
held   in  veneration  by  Scots,  Picts,  Britons,  English,  and 
Irish,"  says  Leslie,  "  and  more  churches  were  erected  to  God 
in  memory  of  her  among  all  those  nations  than  to  any  other 
saint,"  and  if  Bride  and  Bridget  are  different  forms  of  the 
same  name,  as  Simpson  argues,  Kirkbride  in  Durisdeer  was 
one  of  them.     It  is   at   least   a   curious   coincidence   that, 

30  History  of  Sanquhar. 

according  to  the  testimony  of  the  old  people,  it  was  customary 
for  the  maidens  of  Sanquhar  to  resort  on  May-day  to  St. 
Bride's  Well,  where  each  presented  nine  smooth  white  stones 
as  an  offering  to  the  Saint,  which  correspond  in  number  with 
St.  Bride's  nine  virgin  attendants. 

3.  Ryehill  Moat. — Immediately  below  the  farmhouse  of 
Ryehill  there  is  a  remnant  of  antiquity  in  the  form  of  a 
Moat.  "  There  was,"  says  Chalmers,  "  a  moat  hill  in  every 
district  of  North  Britain,  during  an  age  when  justice  was 
administered  to  a  coarse  people  in  the  open  air."  These 
moats  belong  to  the  Saxon  age,  and  were  of  two  kinds — the 
folkmote  and  the  wittenagemote — the  place  of  assembly  for 
the  people  and  the  judgment  seat.  Grose,  in  his  "  Antiquities," 
says  of  this  moat — "  Not  far  from  the  (Sanquhar)  Castle 
down  the  river  remains  the  moat,  or  ancient  court  hill,  of 
the  former  Barons  of  this  Castle,  where,  by  their  bayliffs  and 
doomsters,  they  were  wont  to  give  decisions  upon  civil  and 
criminal  cases  agreeable  to  the  feudal  system,  the  bayliffs 
determining  upon  the  former,  the  doomsters  upon  the  latter. 
The  Creightons,  Lords  of  Sanquhar,  were  heritable  Sheriffs 
of  Nithsdale."  Whether  Ryehill  Moat  was  the  place  where 
these  courts  were  first  held  by  the  Crichtons  is  doubtful. 
The  Ryehill  portion  of  the  barony  of  Sanquhar  was  possessed 
by  the  Ross  family  until  the  failure  of  the  male  line,  when, 
by  the  marriage  of  Isabel  Ross,  the  heiress  of  Ryehill,  to 
William,  son  of  Thomas,  Lord  Crichton,  who  flourished  in 
the  reign  of  Robert  Brus,  the  whole  of  the  barony  came 
into  the  possession  of  the  Crichtons,  and  it  was  then,  in  all 
likelihood,  that  Ryehill  Moat  became  their  place  of  judgment- 
It  was  close  by  the  moat  that  the  gravestones  of  the  Rosses, 
elsewhere  mentioned,  were  found.  The  Gallows  Knowe,  or 
place  of  execution,  was  situated  not  far  off  on  the  upper 
side  of  the  road  between  the  Castle  and  the  Moat,  but  it  is 
now  cut  through  by  the  railway.  In  these  rude  "times  they 
proceeded  with  their  business  in  an  expeditious  and  uncere- 
monious manner,  and  the  unlucky  wight  upon  whom  doom 

History  of  Sanqukar.  31 

had  been  pronounced  at  the  moat  would  be  found  in  a  short 
space  of  time  dangling  at  the  end  of  a  rope  on  the  top  of 
the  knowe.  The  gallows  for  male,  and  the  pit  for  female 
offenders,  were  the  forms  in  which  capital  punishment  was 
then  administered.  The  pit  was  filled  with  water,  and  the 
woman  was  put  into  a  sack  tied  closely  at  the  mouth,  and 
plunged  overhead,  where  she  was  left  till  death  put  an  end 
to  her  struggles.  This  was  the  power  of  "  pit  and  gallows  " 
possessed  by  the  barons,  and  conferred  by  charter  upon  the 
civic  authorities,  and,  though  clung  to  tenaciously  by  the 
holders,  was  wrested  from  them  by  the  abolition  of  heritable 
jurisdictions  in  1748.  In  connection  with  the  Deemster  or 
Doomster,  attention  may  be  directed  to  the  list  of  lands, 
enumerated  in  the  appendix,  as  belonging  to  the  barony  of 
Sanquhar,  on  its  transfer  from  the  Crichtons  to  the  Douglases 
in  1630,  which  contains  the  Glenmucklochs.  Now,  one  of 
these  was,  and  still  is,  termed  Deemstertown  of  Glenmuck- 
loch  ;  in  all  likelihood  it  was  at  one  time  occupied  by  the 
Deemster  or  Doomster  as  a  pendicle  of  his  office. 

4.  Druidical  Circle  on  Knockerihair  hill,  of  the  common 
type,  having  no  particular  history. 

5.  Kemp's  Castle. — This  is  a  natural  promontory  formed 
at  the  junction  of  the  Barr  Burn  with  the  river  Euchan.     It 
is  about  two  acres  in  extent,  and  rises  to  an  altitude  of  thirty 
or  forty  feet  above  the  level  of  the  surrounding  ground.     On 
three  sides  it  was  practically  unassailable,  and  on  the  fourth 
— the  west  side — it  had  been  well  protected  by  at  least  three 
entrenchments.     There  must  have  been  at  this  end  at  some 
remote  period  a  building,  which  probably  gave  its  name  to 
the  place.     The  surface  here  is  more  elevated,  and  about 
thirty  years  ago  a  cutting   was  made  through  part  of  the 
debris,  which  revealed  the  fact  that  the  site  had  been  occu- 
pied by  either  a  vitrified  fort  or  a  stronghold  which  had  been 
destroyed  and    its  walls  calcined  by  fire.     Vitreous  masses, 
containing  stones  of  various  descriptions  fused  together,  can 
be  picked  up  on  the  southern  bank  at  the  roots  of  trees,  by 

32  History  of  Sanquhar . 

which  they  have  been  thrown  to  the  surface.  The  chief 
attraction  to  the  visitor  is  the  magnificent  view  down  the 
esplanade,  through  the  vista  of  trees  beyond,  which  looks 
direct  across  the  Nith  to  Sanquhar  Castle.  No  antiquities 
have  been  found  on  its  site  except  a  quern  of  the  pot  type, 
which  is  in  Dr  Grierson's  Museum  at  Thornhill. 

6.  Lake  Dwelling  in  Sanquhar  Loch. — This  lacustrine  or 
stockaded  island  is  situated  in  the  centre  of  the  Black  Loch 
on  Sanquhar  Muir.  The  loch  itself  is  about  three  acres  in 
extent,  and  is  very  deep,  besides  being  surrounded  by  fissures 
in  the  moss,  likewise  of  great  depth.  The  island  attracted 
no  particular  attention  till  about  thirty  years  ago,  when  a 
man  was  drowned  in  the  loch.  He  had  been  seen  wandering 
in  the  vicinity  before  his  disappearance,  and  it  was  supposed 
that  he  was  under  the  water.  It  was  resolved,  therefore,  to 
drain  the  loch,  and  on  the  level  of  the  water  being  reduced, 
not  only  was  the  object  of  the  search  disclosed  to  view,  but 
also  an  ancient  canoe,  dug  out  in  rude  fashion  from  the  solid 
oak.  It  was  removed  to  a  garden  in  Sanquhar,  where,  by 
natural  decay,  it  has  shrunk  to  very  small  dimensions.  The 
attention  of  antiquaries  was  drawn  to  the  place,  and  the 
Dumfries  Antiquarian  Society  visited  and  reported  upon  it 
in  the  year  1865.  The  following  is  taken  from  the  report: — 

"  The  extent  of  the  surface  of  the  island  available  above  the  water  was 
forty-nine  feet  from  east  to  west  by  forty  feet  from  north  to  south.  It 
would  stand  from  six  to  eight  feet  above  the  exposed  bottom  of  the  loch, 
and  the  sides  being  sloped,  the  base  was  considerably  wider  than  the 
dimensions  above  given.  When  first  seen,  after  the  bottom  was  laid  dry, 
a  few  upright  piles  were  observed,  and  the  curving  narrow  passage  from 
the  mainland  appeared  somewhat  raised,  and  was  hard  below  the  immediate 
mud  deposit,  as  if  a  sort  of  rough  causeway  had  been  formed ;  and  when 
the  water  was  at  its  height,  or  nearly  level  with  the  surface  of  the  island, 
persons  acquainted  with  the  turn  or  winding  of  the  passage  could  wade  to 
it.  The  base  of  the  slope  of  the  island  was  laid  or  strengthened  with  stones, 
some  of  considerable  size,  so  placed  as  to  protect  the  wooden  structure. 
Round  the  island  could  be  seen  driven  piles,  to  which  were  attached  strong 
transverse  beams,  and  upon  making  a  cut  six  or  seven  feet  wide  into  the 
side  of  the  island  to  ascertain  its  structure,  we  found  a  platform  of  about 
four  feet  in  depth  raised  by  transverse  beams  alternately  across  each  other, 

Histoi^y  of  Sanqukar.  33 

and  kept  in  position  by  driven  piles.  These  last  were  generally  self  oak 
trees,  but  dressed  and  sharpened  by  a  metal  tool,  some  of  them  morticed 
at  the  heads,  where  a  transverse  rail  or  beam  could  be  fixed.  The  trans- 
verse beams,  of  various  sizes,  were  chiefly  of  birch  wood.  It  is,  therefore, 
very  similar  to  that  of  some  of  the  smaller  Irish  Crannogs,  only  that  in  the 
latter  the  platform  was  frequently  formed  of  stones.  The  wooden  platform 
rested  upon  a  hard  foundation,  either  the  natural  subsoil  in  the  loch  or 
quarry  refuse.  The  mud  prevented  this  being  ascertained  correctly,  but 
it  was  most  probably  the  former,  as  the  hard  subsoil  was  soon  struck  when 
deepening  the  outfall.  On  the  top  of  the  wooden  platform  was  a  layer,  of 
from  twelve  to  eighteen  inches  thick,  of,  apparently,  chips  or  debris  from 
some  neighbouring  quarry  of  white  or  grey  sandstone,  upon  which  the 
vegetable  mould  now  supporting  the  rank  vegetation  had  accumulated. 
On  the  surface  of  the  island  there  were  some  indications  of  building,  but 
on  examination  these  were  found  to  be  only  the  erection  of  curlers  for  fire, 
or  the  protection  of  their  channel-stones  when  not  in  use.  No  remains  of 
any  kind  were  found  on  the  island  nor  around  it,  but,  except  on  the 
passage  from  the  mainland,  the  mud  was  so  deep  and  soft  as  to  prevent 
effectual  search.  Neither  have  we  any  record  of  any  other  remains  being 
found  in  or  near  the  loch  except  the  canoe  already  alluded  to.  It  is  formed 
out  of  a  single  oak  tree,  sixteen  feet  in  length  by  three  feet  broad  at  the 
widest  part,  at  the  prow  only  one  foot  ten  inches.  It  is  at  present  lying 
exposed  to  weather,  and  for  protection  a  coating  of  pitch  was  lately  given 
to  it.  It  will  thus  ere  long  decay  and  be  lost.  The  burgh  of  Sauquhar 
should  endeavour  to  protect  their  curious  and  valuable  relic.  It  would 
easily  sling  from  the  roof  of  one  of  the  public  rooms." 

During  the  work  undertaken  by  the  Town  Council  a  few 
years  ago,  with  the  view  of  constructing  a  curling  pond 
there,  the  passage  from  the  mainland  to  the  island,  referred  to 
in  the  above  report,  was  more  thoroughly  inspected,  and  the 
gangway  was  found  to  be  supported  by  piles.  There  was  at 
the  same  time  laid  bare  a  massive  stockade  of  large  trunks 
of  trees,  set  perpendicularly  and  secured  together  at  the 
bottom  by  mortices,  through  which  were  driven  smaller 
trees,  which  bound  the  whole  together  and  kept  it  in 
position.  There  is  in  Grierson's  Museum,  at  Thornhill,  a 
stone  celt  of  rude  type  which  was  found  on  the  margin  of 
the  Loch. 

7.  Remains  of  Ancient  Strongholds. — These  belong  to  a 
later  than  the  Roman  period,  and  their  sites  and  their  names 
are — Clenrae  Castle,  near  the  March  with  Lanarkshire  ; 


34  History  of  Sanquhar. 

Castle  Gilmour,  Dear  to  the  present  farmhouse  of  Auchen- 
gruith  ;  Goosehill  Castle,  on  the  march  between  that  farm 
and  South  Mains,  above  the  road,  where  some  time  ago  a 
number  of  old  gold  coins  were  found  ;  the  remains  of  the 
ancient  stronghold  of  Ryehill,  in  the  wood  adjoining  the 
farmhouse  there  ;  at  Drambuie,  in  the  west  of  the  parish, 
where  traces  of  ancient  buildings  exist  north  of  the  present 
house,  and  a  stone  bearing  the  date  1513,  and  also  a  coat  of 
arms  of  ancient  design  were  found. 

8.  Cairns. — There  are  no  cairns  of  great  dimensions  in 
the   parish.     In   the    upper  reaches    of  Euchan   there  is  a 
small  cairn  near  the  river  which  has  been  cut  through,  but 
revealed  nothing  of  interest.     About  a  mile  from  Corsebank, 
in  a  little  holm  between  the  road  and  the  stream,  the  atten- 
tion of  the  passer-by  is  attracted  by  a  stone  set  up  in  the 
form   of  a  pillar  or  monument.     It  is  about  three  feet  in 
height,  and  tradition  says  it  marks  the  place  where  a  battle 
was  fought    between  the  men   of  Crawford  and  Nithsdale. 
Be  that  as  it  may,  the  notable  fact  is  that  this  is  a  boulder 
of  Hornblende,  and,  with  the  exception  of  a  large  flat  speci- 
men of  the  same  kind  on  Corsebank-burn,  is  the  only  one  of 
the  kind  that  has  been  observed  in  Nithsdale.     In  all  proba- 
bility it,   like  the  Orchard  Burn  stone   mentioned  in  the 
Topography,  is    a    glacial  stone,  whose  parent  rock  lies  in 
the  Grampians. 

9.  The  Deil's  or  Picts'  Dyke. — This  interesting  relic  of 
antiquity  traverses  the  whole  of  the  south-west  of  Scotland 
from  the  head  of  Lochryan,  and  is  supposed  to  connect  with 
the  Catrail,  which  means  the  dividing  fence,  in  the  border 
counties.     There  is  little  doubt  that  it  is  the  remains  of  a 
great  territorial  division  between   the  different  tribes  that 
inhabited  this  region.     In  this  parish  it  enters  at  Drumbuie 
farm,  on  the  south  side  of  the  Nith,  proceeds  south-eastward 
till  it  leaves  the  parish  at  the  farm  of  Burnmouth,  in  the 
parish  of  Durisdeer.     There  are  vestiges  of  entrenchments 
or  fortifications  to  be  seen  at  various  points  along  its  route, 

History  of  Sa/nquhar,  35 

particularly  at  South  Mains,  and  at  Kelloside,  in  Kirkconnel. 
The  former  is  of  a  square  form,  and  may  have  been  a  Roman 
encampment  at  a  later  period. 

10.  Mention  may  here  be  made  of  the  Chapel  Yard  of 
Dalpeddar,  which  indicates  the  existence  there  at  one  time 
of  a  chapel ;  and  the  name  of  a  streamlet  in  the  vicinity, 
"  The  Brewster's  Burn,"  is  further  proof,  for  the  constitution 
of  a  Saxon  hold  was  a  castle,  a  kirk  or  chapel,  a  mill,  a 
smithy,  and  a    brew-house.     The  familiar  pronunciation  of 
the  name  "  Dapether  "  points  to  its  ancient  origin,  carrying 
us  back  to  the  Peithwyr,  who  were  the  Picts  of  Galloway. 

11.  At  the  foot  of  Glenclauch  Brae  011   Mennock  Road, 
near  the  roadside,  on  a  flat  piece  of  land  at  the  base  of  the 
hill,  there  is  a  relic  of  antiquity  in  the  shape  of  a  large  cross 
formed  on  the  ground  of  stones  and  earth.     On  the  same 
place  is  erected  a  stell  or  fold  for  sheep  in  winter.     This  is 
called  the  Cross  Kirk  of  Mennock,  and  is  believed  to  mark 
the   site    of  an    ancient  chapel.      This  is  only  conjecture. 
Certainly  no  better   site  could  have    been    chosen  by  the 
monks  for  practising  their  holy  rites,  for  in  that  age  there 
was  no  road  up  the  pass,  and  the  situation  would  be  one  of 
perfect  seclusion — of  unbroken  peace. 

12.  Domestic  Architecture.  —  Some   of  the   houses    in 
Sanquhar  are  of  considerable  antiquity.     One  in  the  vicinity 
of  the  Town  Hall  bears  at  the  eaves  on  the  west  the  date 
1626    in   raised   figures,   and   at   the   end   the   initials   ^ 
Another  on  the  Corseknowe  shews  good  examples  of  bottle 
moulding  of  an  ancient  type  ;  the  walls  are  about  four  feet 
thick,  the  mortar  used  having  been  clay.     This  house,  it  is 
said,  at  one  time  served  as  the  jail,  and  if  that  be  so,  it 
points  to  a  date  anterior  to  the  erection  of  the  old  Town 
Hall  and  Tolbooth.     There  are  other  houses  in  the  town 
shewing  mouldings  of  a  later  but  still  ancient  date,  and  the 
walls  of  several,  when  cleared  of  whitewash  and  plaster,  give 
indications  of  the  entrance   having   been  obtained   to   the 
upper  storey  by  an  outside  stair.     Many  houses  in  Sanquhar 

36  History  of  Sanquhar. 

are  described  in  their  titles  as  "  high  and  laigh,"  according 
to  their  elevation.  One  opposite  the  Royal  Bank  was  called 
"  The  Gairland  Great  House,"  while  the  Bank  itself  stands  on 
the  site  of  what  was  once  the  town-house  of  the  Crichtons, 
and  where,  as  is  elsewhere  stated,  Queen  Mary  was  enter- 
tained when  she  was  on  her  flight  from  the  field  of  Langside. 
In  former  days  there  were  many  small  lairdships  in  the 
neighbourhood — The  Holm,  Knockenstob,  Carcomains,  Carco- 
side,  Orchard,  Carco,  Castle  Robert,  and  Gairland,  among 
others,  having  all  been  separately  owned,  and  some  at  least 
of  their  proprietors  possessed  town  residences.  At  the  demoli- 
tion of  old  houses  there  are  frequently  seen  specimens  of 
ancient  masonry,  a  notable  example  being  the  house  at 

13.  Sanquhar  Cross. — The  ancient  Cross  of  the  burgh,  to 
which  the  famous  declarations  were  affixed,  was  situated  at 
the  Crossknow,  now  called  the  Corseknowe.  It  was  a  slender 
pillar,  not  more  than  nine  inches  in  diameter,  and  was  sur- 
mounted by  a  plain  capital,  which  now  adorns  the  apex  of 
the  porch  of  the  Free  Church  in  St.  Mary  Street.  The 
stone  in  front  of  the  Cross,  upon  which  Cameron  stood  when 
he  read  his  declaration,  was  subsequently  removed  to  a 
slaughter-house  in  the  Back  Road,  where  it  was  sunk  in  the 
floor,  and  a  ring  attached  for  securing  the  animals.  What  a 
profanation  !  It  has  now  disappeared — probably  when  the 
place  was  converted  into  a  weaving  shop,  and  the  floors  were 
sunk  to  allow  room  for  the  play  of  the  "treddles." 

The  following  is  a  catalogue  of  the  principal  relics  of  bye- 
gone  ages  which  have  been  picked  up  in  this  locality : — 

Stone  Axe. — Found  on  Ulziesitle  in  1884,  with  five  incised  lines  on  edge, 
and  one  ornamental  course  on  face.  Length,  10  inches  ;  weight,  6^  Ibs. 

Stone  Hammer,  of  diamond  shape. — Found  on  South  Mains  in  1850, 
beautifully  perforated,  and  believed  to  be  unique  in  shape.  Measures  4 
by  3  inches. 

Stone  Hammer,  perforated. — Found  in  Crawick  in  1875.  Measures  3£ 
by  2£  inches. 

History  of  Sanquhar.  37 

Stone  Hammer,  half  perforated. — Found  in  Kello  in  1886.  Measures  4 
by  3  inches. 

Stone,  slightly  perforated. — Found  at  Birkburn  in  1888.  Measures  34 
by  3  inches. 

Celt. — Found  at  Greenhead  in  1882.  5  inches  long,  of  Crawick  grey 
stone,  beautifully  polished. 

Celt,  adze-shaped,  of  claystone. — Found  at  Eliock  Grange  in  1881.  5 
inches  long,  with  polished,  sharp  edge. 

Celt,  also  of  claystone.  —Found  at  Wellstrand  in  1889.     11  inches  long. 

Stone  Maul. — Found  at  Sanquhar  Bowling  Green  in  1889.     8  inches  long. 

Charm  King  of  Shale. — Found  at  Eliock  Grange  in  1881.  4  inches  in 

Cannon  Ball  of  Malleable  Iron.  -Found  in  Deer  Park,  Sanquhar,  in 
1830.  2  Ibs.  hi  weight. 

Part  of  Runic  Stone.  — Found  in  dyke  at  New  Road,  Sanquhar. 

Groin  Stone  of  Arch  in  old  Parish  Church,  and  several  well-preserved 
pieces  of  the  Mullions  of  the  windows  of  the  old  Church. 

[The   above  are  all    in    the   collection  belonging  to    Mr   J.   R. 
Wilson,  Royal  Bank,  Sanquhar.] 

Stone  Celt. — Found  at  Black  Loch.     In  Grierson's  Museum,  Thornhill. 

Cannon  Ball,  same  as  above. —Found  also  in  Deer  Park.  In  the  posses- 
sion of  Miss  Bramwell,  St.  Helens. 

Arrow  Head,  with  barb  awanting. — Found  at  Ryehill.  In  the  possession 
of  Mr  T.  B.  Steuart,  Auchentaggart. 

Large  Putting-stone,  known  as  "Strong  Glenmanna's  putting-stone,"  he 
having  used  it  at  sheep  handlings  at  Glenwhern,  whence  it  was  removed  to 
Craigdarroch,  and  is  now  in  the  possession  of  Mr  Paterson. 

Part  of  Runic  Stone.  — Found  in  the  district  by  the  late  Rev.  Dr  Simpson. 
Now  in  the  possession  of  the  Rev.  James  Hay  Scott. 

Pre- Reformation  Tombstone,  embellished  with  cross-and-scissors  device  ; 
built  into  the  east  wall  of  the  Churchyard. 

Support  of  Thruch-stone  from  Abraham  Crichton's  burying-place  ;  also 
built  into  the  same  wall. 

Carved  Head. — Built  into  wall  of  house  known  as  "  The  Ark,"  near  the 
Townfoot ;  believed  to  have  been  removed  from  the  ancient  hospital  of 

Several  Carved  Stones  in  roadside  dyke  on  Castle  Farm  ;  also  believed  to 
be  from  said  hospital,  together  with  one  at  courtyard  at  Castle  Mains. 

38  History  of  Sdnquhar. 

QUERNS.  —  1.  Portable  Type. — Specimens  are  in  possession  of  Mr  Wilson, 
Rev.  Mr  Scott,  and  Mr  Lewis. 

2.  Hand  Qwrns. — Some  of  these  are  of  considerable  size,  and 

are  slightly  ornamented.  The  finest  specimens  are  in  Mr 
Wilson's  possession,  and  are  yet  fit  for  use.  The  upper 
stones  of  such  querns  are  quite  common,  but  only  two  of 
the  lower  have  ever  been  recovered  in  the  parish. 

3.  Pot   Querm   or   Kneading    Troughs. — These   were   formerly 

used  for  detaching  the  awns  from  barley  and  other 
grains,  and  Mr  Wilson  states  that  in  this  parish  alone 
he  has  seen  no  less  than  75  examples. 

Stone  Weights. — These  were  formerly  hung  on  weavers'  beams  to  keep 
the  web  on  the  stretch.  There  are  many  to  be  seen  in  and  around 
Sanquhar,  and  are  not  to  be  confounded  with  the  round  stones  with  iron 
rings  attached,  formerly  and  still  used  as  weights  at  farmhouses.  These 
latter  still  exist,  ranging  in  weight  from  7  Ibs.  to  70  Ibs.,  but  they  are  fast 


the  Roman  period,  the  western  clan  of  the  Selgova? 
inhabited  Annandale,  Nithsdale,  and  Eskdale  in 
Dumfriesshire  ;  the  east  part  of  Galloway,  as  far  as 
the  river  Dee,  which  was  their  western  boundary  ; 
and  they  had  the  Solway  Firth  for  their  southern 
limit.  The  British  name  of  the  Selgovce  is  supposed 
to  be  descriptive  of  their  country,  which  lay  on  a  dividing 
water,  and  which,  by  the  new  settlers  who  were  introduced 
during  the  middle  ages,  was  denominated  the  Solway.  The 
Nid  or  Nith,  like  the  Nidus  or  Nith  in  Wales,  derives  its 
appropriate  name  from  the  British  Nedd,  which  is  pronounced 
Neth,  and  which  signifies,  in  the  Cambro-British  speech, 
circling  or  revolving. 

After  the  Romans  had  withdrawn  from  their  occupation 
of  North  Britain,  as  of  the  remainder  of  the  island,  the 
Danish  Vikinger,  sallying  out  from  Northumberland  in  875 
A.D.,  wasted  Galloway,  which  of  old  included  Dumfriesshire. 
The  Saxon  plantation  had  always  been  inconsiderable,  and 
the  Saxon  authority  became  extinct  at  the  end  of  the  eighth 
century.  This  incited  the  settlement  of  a  new  colony  from 
Ireland,  and  the  settlers  of  this  period  were  followed  by 
fresh  swarms  from  the  Irish  hive  during  the  ninth  and  tenth 
centuries.  These  Cruithne,  as  they  were  called,  were  joined 
by  the  kindred  Scots  of  Kintire,  and  it  was  these  Irish 
colonists  which,  Chalmers  is  of  opinion,  assumed  the  name  of 
Picts,  as  seen  in  the  chronicles  of  the  eleventh  and  twelfth 

40  History  of  Sanquhar. 

centuries,  Picts  signifying  painted,  and  being  the  well-known 
name  of  the  genuine  Picts  of  Scotland. 

It  is  curious  to  remark  how  much  the  names  of  places 
within  the  peninsula  bounded  by  the  Irish  Sea  and  the  Firths 
of  Solway  arid  the  Clyde  correspond  with  the  history  of  the 
people  who  successively  colonized  within  its  limits.  The 
paucity  of  Anglo-Saxon  names  in  Dumfriesshire,  exclusive 
of  the  pure  English  appellations  of  modern  times,  proves  that 
the  Saxons  never  settled  within  Galloway  in  any  numerous 
bodies  for  any  length  of  years.  The  Irish  settlers  completely 
occupied  the  whole  extent  of  the  peninsula,  and  mingling 
in  every  place  with  the  enfeebled  Britons,  whose  speech  they 
understood,  and  amalgamating  with  the  still  fewer  Saxons, 
whose  language  they  rejected  as  unintelligible,  the  Scoto- 
Irish  imposed  their  names  on  many  places  which  still  remain 
on  the  county  maps. 

It  is  perhaps  more  difficult  to  settle,  with  equal  precision, 
the  several  epochs  at  which  tlie  Saxon  settlers  sat  down  in 
Dumfriesshire  among  the  Scoto-Irish.  A  few  Saxons  did 
settle  in  this  district  among  the  British  Selgova?  during  the 
seventh  and  eighth  centuries,  but  the  most  extensive  and 
permanent  colonisation  in  Dumfriesshire  took  place  in  a 
subsequent  age.  The  occupation  by  the  Scoto-Irish  must 
have  extended  pver  several  centuries,  for  we  find  that  in  the 
reign  of  David  I.  (1124-1153)  Nithsdale  still  remained  in 
the  hands  of  Dunegal  of  Stranith,  a  Scoto-Irish  chief,  and 
was  then  inhabited  by  a  Scoto-Irish  people,  who  long  enjoyed 
their  own  laws.  This  Dunegal  ruled  from  the  Castle  of 
Morton,  the  ruins  of  which  still  remain,  the  whole  of  the 
strath  from  Corsancone  to  Criffel.  On  his  death,  his  posses- 
sions were  divived  among  his  four  sons,  of  whom  only  two, 
Randolph  (or  Rodolph)  and  Duvenal,  are  known  to  history. 
Randolph,  the  eldest,  inherited  the  largest  share  of  the 
patrimonial  estates,  and,  like  his  father,  had  his  residence 
at  Morton  Castle.  He  had  three  sons,  the  youngest  of 
whom,  Dovenald,  received  from  his  father  Sanchar  (so  it  was 

History  of  Sanquhar.  41 

then  spelt),  Ellioc,  and  other  lands,  and  was  slain,  while  quite 
a  youth,  at  the  ''Battle  of  the  Standard."  One  of  Dovenald's 
sons  was  Edgar,  who  lived  in  the  reigns  of  William  the  Lion 
and  Alexander  II.  The  children  of  this  chief  adopted  the 
surname  of  Edgar  for  the  family — one  of  the  earliest  recorded 
instances  of  the  adoption  of  a  surname  in  Nithsdale.  One 
of  his  sons,  Richard,  owned  the  Castle  and  half  of  the  barony 
of  Sanquhar,  together  with  the  lands  of  Eliock,  by  charter 
from  Robert  Brus,  the  other  half  being  owned  by  William 
de  Crichton  through  marriage  with  Isobel,  daughter  of 
Robert  de  Ross  (who  was  related  to  the  Lord  of  the  Isles)  ; 
and,  to  his  grandson  Donald,  David  II.,  who  began  to  reign 
on  the  death  of  his  father  Robert  the  Bruce  in  1329, 
granted  the  captainship  of  the  MacGowans,  a  numerous  clan 
of  the  Scoto-Irish  then  located  in  the  district.  The  posses- 
sions of  the  Edgars  in  Nithsdale  were  very  extensive,  for  we 
find  that  AfFrica,  the  daughter  of  Edgar,  in  the  reign  of 
Alexander  II.  owned  the  lands  of  Dunscore,  a  place  there 
still  bearing  the  name  of  Edgarstown.  Edgar  is  still  a 
common  name  in  Dumfriesshire,  and  from  this  ancient  stock 
some  families  in  the  neighbourhood  of  Sanquhar  can  still 
trace  their  descent,  the  common  progenitor  of  all  the  Edgars 
having  been  the  son  of  Dovenald,  the  Scoto-Irish  chief. — 
Chalmers'  Caledonia. 

Prior  to  the  twelfth  century,  a  good  deal  of  obscurity 
surrounds  the  history  and  condition  of  the  country.  Except- 
ing a  few  leading  facts,  much  of  the  so-called  history  is 
merely  the  collected  opinions  of  various  historians.  These 
opinions  rest  frequently  on  very  slender  foundation,  being  at 
the  best  nothing  more  than  shrewd  conjecture,  and,  to  a  con- 
siderable extent,  contradictory  of  each  other.  The  law  of  the 
land,  too,  was  an  unwritten  law,  and  consisted  simply  of  the 
established  usages  and  customs  of  the  people.  From  the  date 
mentioned,  "the  laws  of  England  and  Scotland,"  Lord  Kaimes 
says,  "  were  originally  the  same,  almost  in  every  particular." 
The  beginning  of  the  twelfth  century  marks  a  new  era  in  the 


42  History  of  Sanquhar. 

history  of  the  country.  Then  it  was  that  the  feudal  system, 
which  in  a  modified  form  still  prevails  among  us,  was  first 
established  ;  the  land,  which  previously  had  been  the  subject 
merely  of  grants,  was  now  secured  to  its  possessors  by  charters, 
and  the  administration  of  justice,  however  rude  and  imperfect 
in  form,  was  provided  for  by  the  appointment  of  Sheriffs, 
whose  duties,  if  not  at  first,  at  least  afterwards,  were  military 
as  well  as  judicial,  as  we  shall  see  in  the  Chapter  on  the 
Crichton  family.  "  These  Sheriffs,"  we  have  it  on  the 
authority  of  Caledonia,  "  the  Celtic  people,  both  in  Ireland 
and  Scotland,  concurred  in  hating."  This  is  not  surprising, 
however,  as  human  nature  at  all  times  is  apt  to  rebel  against 
unaccustomed  restraints.  The  jurisdiction  of  these  Sheriffs 
was  not  confined  to  shires,  but  extended  over  certain  defined 
territories,  ten  in  number.  The  idea  of  shire,  belonging  to  the 
Saxons,  was  unknown  to  the  races  that  then  inhabited 

The  Norman  colonisation  which,  beginning  in  the  reign  of 
Edgar,  was  carried  out  so  extensively  in  the  propitious  reign 
of  David  I.  (1124),  exerted  a  wonderful  influence  on  the 
settlement  of  the  country.  Society  now  began  to  assume 
definite  shape  and  form.  The  colonists  were  English  barons, 
who  brought  with  them  a  host  of  vassals.  These  barons 
were  attracted  across  the  border  in  the  year  1124,  when 
David  came  to  the  throne.  He  had  been  educated  at  the 
Court  of  Henry  I.,  and  had  married  an  English  countess. 
The  wonder  which  one  would  naturally  feel  at  persons  of 
rank  and  influence  migrating  from  a  richer  to  a  poorer — 
from  a  comparatively  civilised  to  a  semi-barbarous  country 
(for  the  pressure  of  over  population  was  not  then  felt) — 
disappears  when  we  consider  the  connection  which  the 
reigning  monarch  had  had  with  their  own  Court.  David, 
who  was  a  wise  monarch,  probably  held  out  such  promises 
and  inducements  as  were  sufficiently  enticing  to  lead  these 
settlers  to  surrender  certain  social  advantages  for  others  of  a 
material  kind — to  make  the  same  kind  of  sacrifice  which 

History  of  Sanquhar.  43 

colonists  in  these  days  have  to  undertake.  The  king  was  most 
liberal  in  his  treatment  of  the  colonists  in  the  distribution  of 
lands  to  them  and  their  followers.  The  most  conspicuous  of 
these  settlers  was  Hugh  Moreville,  who  came  from  Burg,  in 
Cumberland.  He  acquired  vast  possessions  in  both  the  east 
and  the  west  country,  and  was  a  great  favourite  with  David, 
who  created  him  Constable  of  Scotland,  which  office  was 
hereditary  in  his  family  for  generations.  He  was  the  founder 
of  the  monastery  of  Dryburgh,  and  died  in  1162.  His 
grandson,  William,  having  died  without  issue,  the  vast  family 
estates  passed  into  other  hands  through  the  marriage  of  his 
sister  Elena  to  Roland,  the  Lord  of  Galloway.  Their  son, 
Alan,  was  one  of  the  most  powerful  barons  in  Britain.  He 
had  no  son,  and  his  three  daughters  were  married  to  English 
nobles — Elena  to  the  Earl  of  Winchester,  Christian  to  the 
son  of  the  Earl  of  Albemarle,  and  Devorgil  to  John  Baliol, 
the  lord  of  Barnard  Castle.  By  these  marriages  there  was 
introduced  into  Galloway  a  great  number  of  English  settlers, 
much  to  the  discontent  of  the  natives,  but  greatly  to  the 
ultimate  advantage  of  the  country.  Several  persons  who 
were  surnamed  Ros,  from  the  north  of  England,  settled  under 
the  Morevilles  in  the  district  of  Cunningham.  Godfrey  de 
Ros  acquired  from  Richard  Moreville  the  lands  of  Stewarton, 
in  the  possession  of  which  he  was  succeeded  by  his  son,  James 
de  Ros,  and  these  are  the  progenitors  of  the  Rosses  of  Halk- 
head,  Ros  Lord  Ros,  Ros  of  Tarbet  in  Cunningham,  and  Ros 
of  Sanquhar  in  Nithsdale.  Here  then  we  have  the  root  of 
the  second  of  the  four  great  families — the  Edgars,  the  Rosses, 
the  Crichtons,  and  the  Douglases — who  for  centuries  bore 
sway  in  Upper  Nithsdale.  The  Rosses  were  a  family  of  high 
distinction.  Robert  de  Ros,  who  was  sent  to  Scotland  by 
King  John,  married  Isabel,  the  natural  daughter  of  King 
William,  in  1191,  with  whom  he  obtained  a  manor  in 
Scotland.  A  descendant  of  his  was  one  of  the  unsuccessful 
competitors  for  the  Scottish  crown  in  1291. 

These  Rosses  owned  the  lands  of  Ryehill,  about  a  mile 

44  History  o/  Sanquhar. 

to  the  south-east  of  Sanquhar,  and  built  a  stronghold  on 
their  estate,  of  which  traces  still  remain.  In  proof  of  the 
worthy  character  of  this  family,  and  the  esteem  in  which 
they  were  held  by  their  neighbours,  Simpson  quotes  the 
inscription  on  one  of  the  gravestones  in  their  ancient  burying 
ground,  which  ran  thus — 



Hiu  LYS 




— and  further  assumes  that  it  refers  to  three  different  persons 
of  the  same  name.  Now  with  regard  to  the  character  of  Sir 
John  Ross,  whether  one  or  three  of  the  name,  too  much 
stress  need  not  be  laid  upon  evidence  of  this  kind.  In  all 
likelihood  the  people  of  that,  just  as  of  this,  generation  had 
a  regard  to  the  adage  "De  mortuis  nil  nisi  bonum."  Besides, 
this  inscription  would  likely  be  composed  by  a  member  of 
the  family,  and  its  testimony  cannot  therefore  be  accepted  as 
quite  unbiassed.  Neither  to  our  mind  is  the  assumption 
that  it  refers  to  three  different  persons  justified.  We  incline 
rather  to  the  belief  that  it  refers  to  one  and  the  same  person, 
and  that  the  writer  of  the  inscription  adopted  the  well-known 
figure  of  a  climax  to  emphasize  the  gudeness  of  this  Sir 
John  Ross  "  Their  place  of  interment,"  Simpson  says, 
"  appears  to  have  been  exactly  to  the  east  side  of  the  moat 
of  Ryehill,  and  close  to  the  foot  of  the  bank,  as  it  was  here 
the  gravestones  were  found." 

The  Edgars  and  Rosses  were  thus  contemporaries.  The 
former,  the  more  important  of  the  two  families,  possessed  the 
Castle  and  the  larger  portion  of  the  barony  of  Sanquhar,  the 
latter  having  their  headquarters  at  Ryehill,  a  place  of 
altogether  minor  importance.  By  the  failure,  however,  of 

History  of  Sanquhar.  45 

the  male  line  of  the  Rosses,  and  the  marriage  of  Isabel  de 
Ross,  the  heiress  of  Ryehil],  to  William  de  Crichton,  there 
was  introduced  into  Nithsdale  a  family  which  was  destined 
to  play  an  important  part  in  the  history  of  Sanquhar  and 
the  surrounding  district.  So  bound  up,  indeed,  was  the 
name  of  Crichton  with  Sanquhar  during  a  period  of  over  300 
years,  and  so  distinguished  a  part  did  the  Crichtous  play, 
that  it  has  been  deemed  fitting  to  devote  a  separate  chapter 
to  their  career. 

Inglistown,  a  corruption,  according  to  Chalmers,  of  English  - 
town,  marked  the  place  where  these  English  colonists  at  first 
settled.  Now,  as  there  is  an  Inglestown  in  Durisdeer,  in 
Moniaive,  in  Irongray,  and  elsewhere,  it  is  evident  that  the 
vale  of  Nith  enjoyed  its  full  share  of  the  benefits  which 
flowed  from  the  introduction  of  these  settlers.  There  were 
thus  imported  into  Scotland  the  elements  of  a  civilisation  to 
which  she  had  been  a  stranger — the  order  of  society  was  of 
a  distinctly  higher  kind  than  had  hitherto  obtained,  and  the 
native  races  were  taught  improved  methods  of  agriculture 
and  other  manual  arts.  Great  benefit  was  likewise  received 
by  the  settlement  throughout  the  lowlands  of  Scotland, 
about  the  same  period,  of  a  large  number  of  Flemings. 
These  Flemings,  driven  from  their  own  country  by  force  of 
circumstances,  repaired  in  great  numbers  to  England  in  the 
reigns  of  William  Rufus  and  Henry  I.  In  1154,  however, 
Henry  II.  banished  the  Flemings  and  other  foreigners  who 
had  come  to  England  in  the  previous  reign,  and  th'e  banished 
Flemings  fled  across  the  border  and  settled  in  the  southern 
parts  of  Scotland.  The  skill  of  this  people  in  weaving  and 
textile  industries  of  all  kinds  was  known  all  over  the  Con- 
tinent, and  the  trade  of  the  Low  countries  in  manufactured 
goods  of  this  description  was  enormous.  In  this  way  the 
foundation  was  laid  of  that  industrial  skill  and  activity  which, 
in  these  later  times,  afford  employment  to  a  large  proportion 
of  the  population,  and  have  developed  a  large  trade  in  staple 
goods  in  the  manufacturing  towns  along  the  Imiks  of  the 

46  History  of  Sanquhar. 

Tweed,  Nith,  and  other  rivers  in  the  South  of  Scotland. 
But  the  immigrants  from  the  Low  countries  embraced  not 
merely  handicraftsmen,  but  also  persons  of  rank — soldiers  of 
fortune  who  had  distinguished  themselves  in  the  wars,  and 
whose  services  were  rewarded  with  grants  of  lands  which 
they  well  knew  how  to  cultivate.  The  influence  of  these 
settlers  must  have  strengthened  that  of  the  Anglo-Normans, 
who  came  across  the  border  at  an  earlier  period,  in  imbuing 
the  minds  of  the  native  population  with  improved  ideas  of 
agricultural  processes,  and  thus  of  advancing  the  material 
and  social  progress  of  the  country. 

Some  of  the  principal  towns  of  Scotland,  as  Edinburgh, 
Berwick,  Roxburgh,  &c.,  had  their  rise  prior  to  this  period, 
but  to  the  Anglo-Norman  settlers  and  their  characteristic 
habits  is  due  the  existence  of  quite  a  number  of  smaller  towns 
or  villages,  which  now  began  to  spring  up  all  over  the 
country.  Being  of  a  military  race  they,  on  settling  in  any 
locality,  first  busied  themselves  with  the  erection  of  a  strong- 
hold, around  which  their  followers  gathered,  thus  forming  a 
hamlet  and  sometimes  a  town. 

Another  important  factor  in  the  settlement  of  the  country, 
and  the  civilisation  of  its  inhabitants,  is  to  be  found  in  the 
erection  of  so  many  religious  houses.  The  monks  were 
drawn  chiefly  from  England.  Then  were  built  those 
magnificent  abbeys  and  ecclesiastical  edifices,  the  ruins  of 
which  bear  witness  to  this  day  of  the  architectural  skill  and 
taste  of  their  founders,  and  the  patient  labour  bestowed  by 
the  monks  on  the  beautification  of  God's  house.  The  Crown 
was  generous  in  the  gift  of  lands  and  revenues  for  the  main- 
tenance of  the  religious  houses.  The  common  notion  of 
Protestants  that  the  monk  was  a  fat,  lazy  priest  who  filled 
up  the  measure  of  an  easy-going  life  between  religious  duties 
and  observances,  performed  in  a  spiritless  and  perfunctory 
manner,  and  the  gratification  of  his  fleshly  appetites,  in  what- 
ever degree  it  may  have  correctly  described  the  monk  of  a 
later  period,  is  certainly  misapplied  to  those  of  this  early 

History  of  Sanquhar.  47 

age.  It  is  well  known  that,  besides  having  a  monopoly  of 
the  learning  of  that  time,  these  priests  thought  it  no  degrada- 
tion of  their  office  to  learn  to  become  skilled  in  all  the  then 
known  arts  and  industries,  and  that,  into  whatever  country 
they  penetrated  and  obtained  a  footing,  they,  besides  using 
all  diligence  in  the  propagation  of  the  faith  of  which  they 
were  the  professed  teachers,  were  equally  diligent  in  spread- 
ing abroad  among  the  people  a  knowledge  of  those  arts 
through  which  alone  they  could  be  raised  from  the  wretched 
state  of  semi-barbarism  in  which  they  were  too  often  sunk. 
Such  were  the  influences  which  co-operated  at  this  early  age 
in  introducing  into  Scotland  some  measure  of  civilisation. 
Still,  they  have  not  succeeded  in  obliterating  the  proof  of 
the  Celtic  origin  of  the  early  inhabitants,  and  of  the  fact 
that  Celtic  blood  runs  in  the  veins  of  the  Scottish  people  to 
this  day.  As  Chalmers  remarks — "  Many  children  of  the 
Celtic  people  have  been,  no  doubt,  converted  from  their 
maternal  Celticism  to  the  artificial  Gothicism  of  the  Saxon 
settlers ;  they  have  been  induced,  by  interest,  to  imitate  the 
Saxon  manners  ;  they  may  have  been  obliged,  by  discipline, 
to  speak  the  Teutonic  language.  Yet  at  the  end  of  seven 
centuries  the  Saxon  colonists  and  their  descendants  have 
not  been  able,  with  the  aid  of  religious  prejudice  and  the 
influence  of  predominating  policy,  to  annihilate  the  Celtic 
people,  to  silence  the  Gaelic  tongue  within  Scotland,  nor  to 
obliterate  the  Celtic  topography,  which  all  remain  the  in- 
dubitable vouchers  of  the  genuine  history  of  North  Britain." 

The  name  Sanquhar,  or  Sanchar  as  it  was  formerly 
spelt,  is  generally  allowed  to  be  a  compound  of  two  Celtic 
words — Saen,  Caer — signifying  "old  fort,"  pointing  un- 
doubtedly to  the  existence  of  an  ancient  British  stronghold 
at  the  time  of  the  Scoto-Irish  invasion  in  the  ninth  and 
tenth  centuries.  The  site  of  this  old  fort  is  believed  to  have 
been  the  knoll  immediately  behind  the  present  farm-house  of 
Broomfield:  a  few  hundred  yards  north  of  the  town.  The  town 

48  History  of  Sanquhar. 

of  Sanquhar  doubtless  owed  its  origin  to  the  existence  of  this 
fort.  This  was,  indeed,  the  origin  of  many  of  the  small  country 
towns,  both  then  and  during  the  subsequent  Anglo-Norman 
colonisation  in  the  twelfth  century,  the  people  during  those 
rude  arid  unsettled  times  gathering  for  protection  under  the 
friendly  shadow  of  a  stronghold.  In  charters  and  other 
documents  the  name  receives  various  forms  of  spelling — 
Sanchair,  Sandier,  Sanchar,  &c.,  but  in  the  early  part  of 
the  seventeenth  century  the  "  ch  "  is  changed  into  "  quh," 
with  the  same  sound,  and  that  form  the  name  has  ever  since 
retained.  We  confess  to  a  wish  that  this  change  had  never 
taken  place,  the  older  form  being  simpler,  and  having  the 
advantage  of  a  closer  resemblance  to  the  original.  '\  here 
are  other  two  places,  but  not  towns — one  in  Morayshire  and 
the  other  in  Ayrshire — of  the  same  name  with  the  same  deri- 
vation. The  town  consisted  simply  of  mud  hovels  and  huts 
of  wood,  with  a  covering  of  thatch.  There  are  old  houses 
still  standing  which,  if  not  built  wholly  of  such  materials, 
have  had  in  their  construction  clay  used  as  mortar,  and  the 
thatching  with  straw  was  up  to  the  present  generation  a 
common  enough  method  of  covering  the  roof.  To  this  style 
of  covering  succeeded  for  a  time  the  use  of  thin  layers  of 
freestone  called  "  flags,"  but,  though  these  were  rain-proof 
and  did  not,  like  the  thatch,  require  frequent  renewing,  they 
were  of  great  weight,  and  put  a  severe  strain  upon  the  frame- 
work of  the  roof.  Both  have  now  given  way  to  slates.  The 
thatched  roof  was  undoubtedly  troublesome  to  keep  in  order, 
and  was  liable  in  a  severe  storm  of  wind  to  "  tirling,"  but  it 
had  the  advantage  over  slates — straw  being  a  bad  conductor 
of  heat  —  of  rendering  the  houses  cool  in  summer  and 
warm  in  winter.  The  thatch,  too,  gave  an  air  of  pictur- 
esqueness  to  the  cottage,  which  is  lacking  in  the  bare  slate, 
while  the  sparrow  chirped  and  the  swallow  twittered  beneath 
its  eaves. 

In  the  reign  of  Robert  the  Bruce,  the  Castle  and  half  of 
the  barony  of  Sanquhar  were  held  by  the  Edgars  ;  but,  as  is 

History  of  Sanquhar.  49 

stated  in  the  chapter  on  the  Crichtons,  they  were  purchased 
from  them  by  Crichton,  and  the  Castle  became  the  residence 
of  the  Crichtons,  and  continued  so  during  the  long  period 
down  to  1630,  when  it  was  in  turn  sold  to  the  Douglases  of 
Drurnlanrig.  After  the  battle  of  Bannockburn,  and  the 
establishment  of  Scotland's  independence,  the  Edgars  of 
Sanquhar,  Elliock,  &c.,  were  confirmed  in  their  possessions. 
We  infer  from  this  that  they  had  remained  true  to  their 
country's  cause,  for  many  barons  who  had  proved  traitors,  at 
this  time  had  their  estates  forfeited  to  the  Crown.  During 
the  war  of  independence,  Sanquhar  Castle  was  captured  by 
the  English,  who  placed  a  garrison  within  its  walls.  The 
aid  of  the  gallant  Douglas  was  besought,  who,  in  response  to 
the  appeal,  made  a  secret  and  rapid  march  with  his  followers 
down  Crawick,  where  he  placed  them  in  ambush  in  tl}e  dark 
recesses  of  that  glen  not  far  from  the  Castle  until  a  plan  had 
been  devised  for  its  capture.  This  proved  a  clever  piece  of 
strategy,  and  was  completely  successful.  The  following  is 
the  account  of  the  affair  as  it  appears  in  Godscroft's  history 
of  the  Douglases,  published  in  1644  : — 

Of  William  the  Hardie  (or  Long  legge),  the  fourth  William  and  seventh 
Lord  of  Dour/fa*. 

"  To  Hugh  did  succeed  his  son  William,  who  for  his  valour  and  courage 
is  distinguished  by  the  addition  of  William  the  hardie  ;  he  is  named  also 
William  long  legge  by  reason  of  his  tall  and  goodly  stature,  having  been 

a  very  personable  man.  He  was  twice  married Concerning 

himself  we  find  in  the  English  Chronicle  that  when  King  Edward  the  first 
took  the  town  of  Berwick  (in  the  year  1295)  he  was  Captain  of  the  Castle 
there,  and  not  being  able  to  resist  and  hold  out,  the  Towne  being  in  the 
enemies'  hands,  he  rendred  the  place  with  himself  also  a  prisoner,  where 
he  remained  until  the  warres  were  ended  by  the  yeelding  of  John  Baliol 
to  King  Edward.  During  the  time  of  his  captivitie  he  was  moved  to  marry 
this  English  Lady,  that  so  he  might  be  drawn  to  favour  the  King's  pre- 
tensions in  conquering  of  Scotland.  But  his  matching  did  not  alter  his 
affection  towards  his  native  countrey,  nor  brake  his  constancie  in  per- 
forming his  dutie  to  it. 

"Wherefore  when  he  heard  that  William  Wallace  was  risen  up,  and  had 
taken  open  banner  against  the  English,  he  joyned  with  him,  by  which 
accession  of  forces  Wallace  army  was  much  increased  and  strengthened  ; 


50  History  of  Sanquhar. 

yet  they  were  not  always  together,  but  according  to  the  occasion  and  as 
opportunity  did  offer  they  did  divide  their  companies,  and  went  to  several 
places,  where  they  hoped  to  get  best  advantage  of  the  enemie,  and  where 
they  needed  no  great  Annie,  but  some  few  companies  at  once.  In  these 
adventures  Lord  William  recovered  from  the  English  the  Castles  of 
Disdiere  and  Samvheire.  The  manner  of  his  taking  the  Castle  of  Sanwheire 
is  said  to  have  been  thus  : — There  was  one  Anderson  that  served  the 
Castle,  and  furnished  them  with  wood  and  fewell,  who  had  daily  access  to 
it  upon  that  occasion.  The  Lord  Douglas  directs  one  of  his  trustiest  and 
stoutest  servants  to  him  to  deale  with  him,  to  find  some  means  to  betray 
the  Castle  to  him,  and  to  bring  him  within  the  gates  onely.  Anderson, 
either  perswaded  by  entreatie  or  corrupted  for  money,  gave  my  Lord's 
servant  (called  Thomas  Dickson)  his  apparell  and  carriages,  who,  comming 
to  the  Castle,  was  let  in  by  the  porter  for  Anderson.  Dickson  presently 
stabbed  the  porter,  and  giving  the  signall  to  his  Lord,  who  lay  neere  by 
with  his  Companies,  set  open  the  gates,  and  received  them  into  the  Court. 
They  being  entered,  killed  the  Captaine,  and  the  whole  English  garrison, 
and  so  remained  master  of  the  place.  The  Captain's  name  was  Beuford, 
a  kinsman  to  his  own  Ladie,  who  had  oppressed  the  country  that  lay  near 
to  him  very  insolently.  One  of  the  English  that  had  been  in  the  Castle 
escaping,  went  to  other  garrisons  that  were  in  other  Castles  and  Townes 
adjacent,  and  told  them  what  had  befallen  his  fellowes,  and  withall 
informed  them  how  the  Castle  might  be  recovered.  Whereupon  joyning 
their  forces  together,  they  came  and  besieged  it.  The  Lord  Douglas, 
finding  himself  straightened  and  unprovided  of  necessaries  for  his  defence, 
did  secretly  convey  his  man  Dickson  out  at  a  postern  or  some  hidden 
passage,  and  sent  him  to  William  Wallace  for  aid.  Wallace  was  then  in 
the  Lennox,  and  hearing  of  the  danger  Douglas  was  in  made  all  the  haste 
he  could  to  come  to  his  relief.  The  English,  having  notice  of  Wallace 
approach,  left  the  siege  and  retired  toward  England,  yet  not  so  quickly 
but  that  Wallace,  accompanied  with  Sir  John  Grahame,  did  overtake  them, 
and  killed  500  of  their  number  ere  they  could  pass  Dalswynton.  By  these 
and  such  like  means  Wallace,  with  his  assistance,  having  beaten  out  the 
English  from  most  part  of  their  strengths  in  Scotland,  did  commit  the  care 
and  custody  of  the  whole  countrey,  from  Drumlenrigge  to  Aire,  to  the 
charge  of  the  Lord  Douglas." 

The  founder  of  that  branch  of  the  Douglases  which  bore 
sway  in  this  district  and  gave  rise  to  the  house  of  Drumlanrig 
was  William,  the  natural  son  of  Archibald  the  Grim.  He 
was  the  first  Lord  of  Nithsdale,  and  in  spite  of  the  taint  of 
illegitimacy,  he,  by  his  virtues  and  bravery,  so  commended 
himself  to  the  favour  of  his  Sovereign,  Robert  II.,  that  he 
preferred  him  for  a  son-in-law  over  all  the  other  young 

History  of  Sanquhar.  51 

noblemen  of  the  kingdom,  bestowing  upon  him  the  hand  of 
his  daughter  Egidia  or  Giles,  esteemed  the  most  beautiful 
woman  of  that  age.  The  King  conferred  upon  Douglas  the 
Lordship  of  Nithsdale  and  the  Sheriffship  of  Dumfries,  the 
office  of  Warden  of  the  Western  Border,  and  those  of  Justice 
and  Chamberlain,  besides  an  annual  pension  of  three  hundred 
pounds  sterling,  to  be  paid  out  of  the  great  customs  of  certain 
burghs.  There  were  minor  branches  of  the  Douglas  family 
at  Coshogle,  Pinyrie,  Dalveen,  and  other  places  in  Nithsdale. 
This  first  Lord  of  Nithsdale  was  the  renowned  Black  Douglas 
of  Scottish  history.  "  Tall  and  of  commanding  presence,  he 
was  also  unusually  bony  and  muscular,  being,  however, 
graceful  and  well  proportioned."*  He  was  a  gallant  soldier, 
stout-hearted  and  resolute  in  action,  and  many  of  the 
exploits  with  which  he  is  credited  by  tradition  are  so  extra- 
ordinary as  to  bear  an  air  of  romance.  He  had  an  arm  and 
hand,  a  blow  from  which  was  like  that  of  a  sledge-hammer ; 
and  instances  are  given  of  his  freeing  himself  from  the 
custody  of  his  guards  by  suddenly  striking  out  right  and  left 
with  his  clenched  fists.  His  dark  and  swarthy  complexion 
gave  to  his  countenance  an  air  of  martial  sternness,  and  pro- 
cured for  him  the  appellation  by  which  he  is  distinguished 
from  the  rest  of  his  illustrious  race.  In  the  many  encounters 
which  in  his  time  took  place  between  the  English  and  Scots 
along  the  Border,  the  Black  Douglas  played  a  conspicuous 
part.  His  tall  dark  figure  was  to  be  seen  in  the  forefront 
of  the  fight,  and  so  great  was  his  prowess  in  the  field  that 
in  time  he  became  a  perfect  terror  to  the  enemies  of  his 
country.  The  stories  of  his  doughty  deeds  were  told  at 
many  a  fireside,  and  so  impressed  the  imaginations  of  the 
simple-minded  country  people  that  English  mothers  along 
the  Border  were  accustomed  to  frighten  their  disobedient 
children  into  submission  by  threatening  them  with  the 
apparition  of  the  Black  Douglas. 

The  whole  of  this  district  was  at  this  time  densely  wooded, 
*  Dumfries  Magazine. 

52  History  of  Sanquhar. 

the  inhabitants  maintaining  themselves  more  by  fishing  and 
the  chase  than  by  agricultural  husbandry.  The  style  of 
living  was  of  the  most  primitive  kind,  and  their  wants  were 
few.  The  remains  of  the  forest  which  filled  the  valley  are 
to  be  seen  in  the  mosses  in  all  directions,  but  there  is  reason 
to  believe  that  in  the  immediate  neighbourhood  of  the  town, 
and  in  the  vicinity  of  the  Castle,  there  was  an  opening  which, 
at  a  later  date,  after  the  Castle  had  been  built,  a  large 
portion  of  it  was  turned  into  a  "  deer  park  "  well  stocked 
with  deer.  The  three  large  fields  on  the  south  of  the  town  are 
still  called  the  Deer  Parks.  This  deer  park,  many  acres  in 
extent,  was  surrounded  by  a  beautifully  built  stone  dyke  or 
wall  seven  feet  high,  which  was  surmounted  by  a  loop-holed 
coping.  A  large  part  of  this  dyke  still  remains,  and,  till  quite 
recently,  some  of  the  coping  had  not  been  removed.  The  last 
reference  we  can  find  to  the  deer  is  contained  in  a  letter 
from  the  Earl  of  Queensberry,  addressed  to  his  cousin  of 
Dornock,  and  dated  from  Edinburgh,  31st  August,  1688,  in 
which  directions  are  given  for  the  killing  of  two  bucks,  the 
one  white  and  the  other  brown.  (See  end  of  Chapter.)  In 
further  proof  of  the  existence  of  the  wood  and  of  its  termina- 
tion here  may  be  adduced  the  name  given  to  houses  at  the 
west  end  of  the  town,  which  were  only  recently  demolished. 
These  houses  were  called  the  "  warld's  end  " — a  corruption 
of  the  "  wold's  end  " — wold  in  the  ancient  tongue  meaning 
"  wood." 

The  state  of  society  at  this  period  was  of  a  rude  and  semi- 
barbarous  character.  There  were,  first,  the  barons,  the 
descendants  of  individuals  who,  chiefly  by  their  military 
services,  had  commended  themselves  to  the  Crown,  by  whom, 
in  reward  for  such  services,  they  had  had  bestowed  on  them 
the  gift  of  lands,  on  condition  that  they,  with  their  retainers, 
should  render  services  of  a  like  kind  whenever  occasion 
demanded.  The  possession  of  the  land  carried  with  it  an 
authority  absolute  and  uncontrolled.  The  barons  dispensed 
what  they  were  pleased  to  call  justice,  which,  in  too  many 

History  of  Sanquhar.  53 

cases,  meant  only  the  expression  of  their  own  will  or  caprice. 
In  truth,  the  common  people  were  simply  slaves — bondsmen, 
or  "  villeyns,"  as  they  were  called.  At  the  mercy,  therefore, 
of  lords,  ignorant  and  intolerant,  and  of  a  brutal  and  savage 
nature,  they  were  in  a  most  miserable  condition.  There 
was,  however,  a  middle  class  consisting  of  those  who  held 
the  land  under  the  barons;  some  of  whom,  it  appears,  paid 
rent  and  corresponded  to  the  modern  farmer,  whilst  the  bulk 
were  liable  to  military  service  with  their  over-lord.  The 
laws  of  the  Burrows  were  more  favourable.  According  to 
them  any  bondsman,  except  the  King's,  who  resided  for  a 
year  and  a  day  within  a  "burrow"  was  entitled  to  his  freedom. 
The  chartularies  of  the  period  afford  numerous  proofs  of  the 
existence  of  this  condition  of  servitude,  wherein  the  number 
of  villeyns  is  given  as. belonging  to  the  lands  transferred, 
and  they  contain  notice  of  cases  where  some  of  these  villeyns 
were  released  from  their  servitude.  The  practice  was  even 
more  general  in  England  than  in  Scotland.  "  Some  of  the 
greater  Abbeys,"  Walsingham  says,  "  had  as  many  as  2000 
villeyus."  The  system  was  there  happily  abolished  in  Crom- 
well's time,  but  it  survived  in  Scotland  till  a  later  period 
under  the  name  of  man-rent,  and  that  notwithstanding  Acts 
of  Parliament  directed  against  it. 

In  the  middle  ages,  there  were  erected  throughout  the 
country  hospitals,  generally  for  the  reception  and  relief  of 
lepers.  There  were  also  hospitals  established  for  the  care  of 
the  sick  poor.  We  know  also  of  establishments  for  the  assist- 
ance and  shelter  of  travellers  such  as  those  maintained  by  the 
monks  on  some  of  the  Alpine  passes  at  the  present  day.  The 
hospitals  in  our  own  country,  which  may  possibly  have  been 
made  to  fulfil  not  merely  one,  but  all  of  these  various  pur- 
poses, were  served  by  charitable  brotherhoods.  The  members 
of  the  brotherhood  took  upon  themselves  certain  vows  of 
poverty,  chastity,  and  obedience,  in  common  with  the  other 
brotherhoods  of  the  Roman  Catholic  Church.  One  of  those 
hospitals  existed  in  the  parish  of  Sanquhar,  being  situated 

54  History  of  Sanquhar. 

near  to  Kingsburn,  about  half  way  between  the  Castle  and 
Ilyehill.  This  must  have  been  one  of  the  most  ancient  of 
such  establishments,  for,  though  the  date  of  its  erection  is  not 
known,  it  was  in  existence  so  early  as  1296,  in  which  year 
Bartholomew  de  Eglisham,  its  chaplain  and  superintendent, 
swore  fealty  to  Edward  I.  (Pryenne  iii.  659).  Simpson  men- 
tions several  relics  of  the  place  as  having  been  observed. 
Hewn  stones  of  Gothic  masonry  were  found  on  the  site  ;  a 
variety  of  human  bones  had  been  turned  up  at  various  times  ; 
a  large  key  was  found  near  the  same  spot ;  and  what  was 
believed  to  have  been  the  font-stone  of  the  chapel  long  stood 
in  the  open  field.  It  is  a  fact  that  several  stones,  not 
apparently  belonging  to  the  Castle,  but  to  some  other  build- 
ing of  importance,  are  to  be  found  built  into  the  dykes  in 
the  vicinity. 

The  exact  date  of  the  building  of  Sanquhar  Castle  cannot 
be  fixed,  but  there  is  no  reason  to  doubt  that  it  was  the  work 
of  the  Edgars  or  their  predecessors  in  the  twelfth  century. 
In  connection  with  the  Saxon  colonisation  in  the  reign  of 
David  I.,  to  which  reference  has  been  made,  the  first  thing  done 
by  these  colonists  for  the  defence  of  the  possessions  granted 
them  by  the  Crown  was  the  erection  of  some  place  of  strength. 
It  does  not  appear  that  they  obtained  a  very  extensive 
footing  in  Nithsdale,  the  Scoto-Jrish,  of  whom  were  the 
Edgars,  keeping  their  ground.  But  no  doubt  their  improved 
methods  in  the  building  of  fortifications,  as  in  everything 
else,  would  be  noted  by  the  native  tribes,  and,  anxious  like 
their  neighbours  to  keep  their  own,  the  Edgars  set  about 
building  a  stronghold  becoming  their  rank  and  station,  and 
of  greater  security  than  anything  of  the  kind  erected  at  any 
previous  time  in  the  district.  At  all  events,  the  Castle  is 
mentioned  as  being  held  by  Richard  Edgar  during  the  reign 
of  Robert  Bruce.  The  site  of  the  Castle  was  a  well  chosen 
one.  It  was  built  on  the  verge  of  the  plateau  which  runs 
along  the  valley  of  the  Nith,  overlooking  what  has  once  been 
the  course  of  the  river.  It  commanded  the  passage  of  Niths- 

History  of  Sanquhar.  55 

dale,  one  of  the  lines  of  march  from  England  into  Scotland, 
and  was,  both  from  its  position  and  construction,  a  place  of 
great  strength.  The  possession  of  it  was,  therefore,  of  great 
importance  during  the  long-continued  war  between  the 
two  countries,  and  frequently  it  changed  hands.  Though 
now  in  ruins,  sufficient  remains  to  enable  us  to  gather  a 
general  idea  of  its  size  and  style  of  architecture.  An 
examination  of  the  ruins  leads  to  the  conclusion  that, 
originally  one  of  those  square  baronial  keeps  which  were 
common  in  the  country  about  the  twelfth  century,  it  was 
enlarged  from  time  to  time,  till  latterly  it  must  have  been  a 
fortress  of  considerable  size,  capable  of  accommodating  a 
large  garrison.  It  stands  facing  the  north-west.  The 
original  keep,  containing  the  principal  gateway,  has  been, 
strange  to  say,  the  best  and  most  substantially  built  part  of 
the  whole  structure.  The  outer  walls  are  composed  of  blocks 
of  stone  all  of  the  same  size,  squared  and  dressed,  and  laid 
regularly  in  courses  nine  to  eighteen  inches  in  height,  but 
they  are  now  bleached  and  weather  worn  with  the  storms 
of  centuries.  The  heart  of  the  wall  has  been  packed  with 
whinstone  and  other  hard  material,  into  which  hot  lime  has 
been  run,  welding  the  whole  into  one  solid  mass.  A.  close 
inspection  of  the  lime  in  the  walls  reveals  the  fact  that  it  had 
been  burnt  in  open  fires  by  the  agency  of  coal,  as  numerous 
particles  of  unburnt  coal  are  to  be  discerned  mixed  up  with 
it.  The  interesting  question  arises — Whence  was  the  coal 
derived  ?  It  is  true  that  thin  seams  crop  out  at  the  edge  of 
a  cleuch  on  Ryehill  near  the  Castle  and  elsewhere  in  the 
vicinity,  and  probably  the  early  inhabitants  had  discovered 
its  applicability  for  the  purpose  of  fuel.  The  amount  obtain- 
able, however,  by  mere  open  digging  could  not  be  great,  and 
other  methods  would  be  required  to  secure  the  large  quantity 
that  would  be  necessary  to  burn  so  great  a  mass  of  lime  as 
was  evidently  poured  into  the  massive  Castle  walls.  The 
natural  and  inevitable  conclusion,  therefore,  appears  to  be 
that  it  must  have  been  by  mining,  probably  by  driving  in  a 

56  History  of  Sanquhar. 

level,  that  the  coal  was  procured  ;  if  this  be  so.  Sanquhar 
may  claim  to  shew  the  earliest  example  in  Scotland  of  coal- 
mining. The  oldest  authentic  notice  of  the  use  of  coals  is 
recorded  by  the  Monks  of  Newbattle,  about  1210,  but 
Sanquhar  Castle  was  built  in  the  twelfth  century. 

This,  the  ancient  Peel,  does  not  appear  to  have  been 
of  any  great  size,  being  fit  to  afford  protection  to  little 
more  than  the  baron  and  his  household.  It  would  appear  to 
have  consisted  of  probably  only  one  room  on  the  ground 
floor,  access  being  had  to  the  upper  storey  or  storeys  by  a 
spiral  stair,  traces  of  which  are  still  visible.  There  were  no 
offices  attached,  nor  indeed  was  there  the  same  necessity  for 
accommodation  of  this  kind.  The  wealth  of  the  baron  con- 
sisted of  cattle  and  horses,  which  roamed  in  the  woods  that 
grew  all  around.  Probably  the  first  addition  that  was 
made  in  the  vicinity  of  the  Peel,  for  it  does  not  appear  at 
first  to  have  been  connected  with  it,  is  the  square  Tower  at 
the  south  corner  of  the  pile  of  ruins,  and  which,  for  what 
reason  does  not  appear,  was  called  Wallace's  Tower.  It 
measures  twenty-three  feet  over  the  wall  and  ten  to  eleven 
feet  inside.  It  consisted  of  three  storeys  at  least,  with  a 
dungeon  beneath,  which,  however,  is  now  filled  up  to  the 
level  of  the  ground  with  the  fallen  debris.  The  chambers  in 
this  part  have  been  very  small,  and  the  windows  little  better 
than  loopholes.  The  stones  used  in  the  construction  of  this 
Tower  are  not  so  massive  as  those  in  the  Peel.  The  ground 
floor  was  vaulted,  as  was  probably  also  one  of  the  upper 
floors.  The  original  Keep  and  this  southern  Tower  have 
been  subsequently  connected  by  a  range  of  buildings  on 
the  southern  and  western  sides.  That  this  is  so  is  plain 
from  the  fact  that  at  the  junction  with  the  south  Tower 
there  is  a  straight  joint  from  top  to  bottom  of  the  wall. 
Next  to  the  Tower  is  the  bakery,  with  the  oven  outside 
the  wall.  This  oven  seems  to  have  been  an  insertion. 
The  kitchen  is  in  the  south-west  corner.  It  has  had  a 
fire-place  about  ten  feet  by  nine  feet,  with  a  stone  drain 

History  o/  Sanquhar.  57 

tlirough  the  wall  to  the  outside.  These  additions  were 
continued  along  the  north-west  or  front  side  till  the  ancient 
Peel  had  been  reached.  They  embraced  a  large  round  tower, 
which  would  be  a  prominent  feature,  and  enhance  greatly 
the  appearance  of  the  Castle.  It  likewise  played  an 
important  part  in  the  internal  economy  of  the  place,  for  it 
afforded  access  by  a  fine  spiral  stone  stair,  with  steps  four 
feet  wide,  to  the  upper  floors  of  the  Castle,  while  it  enfolded 
within  its  sweep  the  well  of  the  Castle,  which  was  forty-two 
feet  in  depth,  and  beautifully  built.  The  basement  floor, 
which  was  vaulted,  is  at  a  lower  level  than  the  courtyard. 
The  other  two  sides  appear  to  have  been  completed  at  a  later 
period,  and  when  that  had  been  done,  Sanquhar  Castle  would 
be  a  fortress  of  great  size  and  strength.  Together,  the  court- 
yard and  castle  form  an  oblong,  measuring  about  167  feet  from 
east  to  west,  and  128  from  north  to  south.  From  the  outer 
courtyard  in  front,  entrance  to  the  Castle  was  obtained  by  an 
arched  doorway  about  seven  feet  six  inches  wide,  which  was 
protected  by  the  round  tower.  Through  this  door  the  inner 
courtyard  was  reached  by  a  vaulted  passage.  The  Castle 
was  approached  from  the  town  along  an  avenue  of  trees,  of 
which  a  few  still  remain,  and  the  burn  which  runs  round  the 
base  is  carried  under  the  roadway  by  an  arched  tunnel 
regularly  built,  one  of  the  oldest  specimens  of  work  of  the 
kind  to  be  seen  in  Scotland.  At  the  end  of  the  avenue  was 
the  gateway  leading  into  the  outer  courtyard  at  the  north- 
west corner.  This  gateway,  of  which  little  remains,  is 
seventeenth  century  work,  and  formed  the  entrance  to  a 
handsome  quadrangle.  It  was  surrounded  on  the  unpro- 
tected sides  by  a  double  fosse,  the  common  form  of  defence 
adopted  in  our  ancient  strongholds.  An  iron  gate  closed  the 
entrance  to  the  court,  and  when  the  ponderous  portcullis  was 
lowered,  the  garrison  had  little  to  fear,  provided  the  place 
was  well  provisioned,  for  their  supply  of  water  was  secured 
by  the  well  within  the  round  tower.  On  the  death,  in  1695, 
of  William,  first  Duke  of  Queensberry,  when  the  family 


58  History  of  Sanquhar. 

residence  was  tranferred  to  Drumlanrig,  the  Castle  was 
stripped  of  its  leaden  roof  and  allowed  to  fall  into  ruins. 

Grose,  in  his  "  Antiquities,"  published  in  the  end  of  last 
century,  says  : — "  Upon  the  bottom  that  lies  beneath  the 
west  side  of  the  castle  were  formerly  the  gardens,  where  the 
remains  of  a  fish  pond,  with  a  square  island  in  the  middle,  is 
still  visible.  On  the  south  side  of  the  castle  was  the  Bowling 
Green,  pretty  near  entire.  The  principal  entrance  was  from 
the  north-east,  where  a  bridge  was  thrown  over  the  fosse." 

The  building  has  fallen  into  such  a  ruinous  state  that 
little  can  be  known  of  the  internal  arrangements.  The  prin- 
cipal rooms,  however,  including  the  great  hall,  were  situated 
in  the  vicinity  of  the  gateway,  on  the  front  side.  Much, 
however,  that  had  long  remained  in  obscurity  was  cleared  up 
during  a  course  of  excavations,  undertaken  a  few  years  ago, 
with  consent  of  the  Duke  of  Buccleuch,  by  the  Marquis  of 
Bute,  the  lineal  descendant  of  the  Crichtons,  the  ancient 
lords  of  the  manor,  whose  most  ancient  title  is  Baron 
Crichton  of  Sanquhar.  These  excavations  revealed  the 
bakery,  kitchen,  and  well,  and  parts  of  the  internal  dividing 
walls.  No  trace  could  be  found,  however,  of  the  outer  wall 
about  the  east  corner,  but  it  is  quite  supposable  that  this 
part  of  the  wall,  even  to  the  foundations,  was  taken  for  the 
building  of  Sanquhar  Town  Hall,  of  which  more  anon.  The 
bricks  were  manufactured  here,  pointing  to  the  fact  that 
brick-making  is  one  of  the  oldest  established  industries  of 
the  district.  It  will  be  noticed  that  in  the  Earl  of  Queens- 
berry's  letter,  at  the  end  of  this  chapter,  reference  is  made 
to  the  same  effect,  the  term  "  tiles  "  being  there  used.  The 
mortar  was  very  coarse,  but  strong,  and  the  arch  of  the  gate- 
way was  pinned  with  oyster-shells.  Teeth  of  the  horse,  cow, 
sheep,  and  pig  were  found,  together  with  skulls  of  various 
breeds  of  dogs,  and  bones  of  all  kinds  of  fowls,  shewing  that, 
in  its  later  days  at  least,  the  diet  of  its  inhabitants  was  of  a 
liberal  and  varied  kind.  Two  boar  tusks  were  found  in  the 
sewer.  The  collection  of  curiosities  unearthed  also  included 

History  of  Sanqukar.  5!) 

a  massive  old  key,  an  antique  chisel,  an  ancient  reaping-hook 
toothed  like  a  common  saw,  many  pieces  of  glass  and 
earthenware,  the  heel  and  sole  of  a  lady's  boot,  differing  but 
little  in  size  and  shape  of  the  heel  from  the  prevailing 
fashion  of  the  present  day.  Five  tobacco  pipes  of  different 
patterns  were  turned  up,  one  of  them 'adorned  with  a  rose 
on  the  bowl.  These  pipes  were  very  small  in  the  head — so 
small  that  the  consumption  of  tobacco  by  the  smoker  could 
not  have  been  great.  Another  interesting  relic  was  a 
child's  toy  in  the  form  of  a  small  boat  found  in  one  of  the 
sewers.  The  greatest  and  most  important  discovery  of  all 
was  the  well  in  the  round  tower.  The  well,  it  was  declared 
by  the  older  people,  was  in  the  court ;  but  the  architect 
argued  that  if  there  was  a  well  within  the  walls,  it  would  be 
found  in  the  circular  tower.  This  supposition, founded  no  doubt 
on  the  position  of  the  well  in  other  similar  fortresses,  proved, 
therefore,  to  be  correct,  and  it  was  shown  how  unreliable  an 
authority  mere  tradition  is  in  matters  of  this  kind.  The 
well  was  forty-two  feet  in  depth,  lined  with  beautiful 
masonr}',  which,  however,  had  been  removed  for  several  feet 
at  the  top.  About  eighteen  inches  at  the  bottom  was  square, 
and  constructed  of  wooden  piles,  upon  which  the  masonry 
rested.  A  scabbard  of  an  old  sword,  several  gargoyles  or 
water-spouts,  a  number  of  stone  window-mullions,  the  legs 
of  sundry  chairs  and  tables,  and  the  old  bucket  for  drawing 
the  water  were  found  in  the  well.  The  bucket  lay  mouth 
downwards,  and  almost  entire.  There  had  been  a  traditional 
story  current  in  the  district  that  a  huge  pot  of  gold  was 
hidden  somewhere  about  the  Castle,  and  this  story  was 
known  to  the  workmen.  The  moment  therefore  the  bucket 
was  disclosed  to  view  in  such  a  condition  that  it  was  impos- 
sible to  determine  on  a  mere  glance  what  it  was,  the  story 
was  recalled  to  the  labourer's  mind,  and  instantly  his 
imagination  pictured  a  glorious  "  find."  He  shouted  in  an 
excited  manner — "  Here's  the  big  pot  o'  gold.  Pull  me  up, 
and  I'll  gie  ye  the  half  o't."  Up  came  the  man  and  the 

60  History  of  Sanquhar. 

bucket,  but  instead  of  gold  it  contained  only  a  mass  of 
broken  stones.  So  much  again  for  tradition. 

The  entrance  to  the  deer  park  from  the  avenue  approach- 
ing the  Castle,  though  now  built  up,  is  still  discernible.  The 
park  skirted  the  gardens  of  the  good  burghers  on  the  south 
side  of  the  town,  into  which  the  deer,  it  is  said,  were  accus- 
tomed to  make  plundering  raids  in  winter,  when  the  pasture 
was  bare,  and  the  kitchen  vegetables  on  the  other  side  were 
altogether  too  tempting.  A  curious  accident  occurred  to  an 
old  buck  in  one  of  these  raids.  The  gardens  contained  not 
only  vegetables,  but  fruit  trees,  and,  in  jumping,  this  old 
reiver,  who,  from  the  height  of  the  wall,  could  not  see  what 
was  on  the  other  side,  drove  one  of  his  horns  deep  into  the 
trunk  of  a  tree  in  coming  down,  the  horn  snapping  and  leaving 
a  considerable  portion  imbedded  in  the  wood.  The  tree  was 
cut  and  converted  into  a  table,  and  it  is  said  that  the  table, 
containing  a  section  of  the  horn,  is  still  to  be  seen  in  the 
town.  The  upper  portion  of  the  deer  park  was  on  a  level 
with  the  town  and  the  Castle,  the  lower  lying  along  the 
banks  of  the  river.  The  garden,  about  two  acres  in  extent, 
lies  at  the  back  of  the  Castle  facing  the  south.  It  is  ter- 
raced at  the  upper  end,  and  is  still  enclosed  within  a  substan- 
tial wall,  remains  of  the  old  fruit  trees  being  visible  until 
quite  recently. 

It  is  but  right  to  state  that  in  "  Castellated  and  Domestic 
Architecture  of  Scotland,"  M'Gibbon  and  Ross  take  a  different 
view  of  the  relative  age  of  several  parts  of  the  structure, 
holding,  for  example,  that  the  south  Tower  is  the  original 
Keep,,  and  therefore  the  most  ancient  portion,  but  we  have 
adopted  the  view,  which  not  only  is  supported  by  other  anti- 
quarian authorities  of  eminence,  but  accords  with  the  popular 
opinion  founded  upon  natural  conclusions  drawn  from  the 
appearance  of  the  ruins. 

Thus  stood  the  Castle  in  its  palmiest  days — a  magnificent 
pile,  towering  up  in  massive  strength  and  grandeur,  the 
watchful  guardian  of  the  vale.  The  scene  presented  to  the 

History  of  Sanquhar.  61 

noble  dames,  as  they  sat  in  the  window  of  the  great  hall, 
would  form  a  charming  picture.  At  their  feet  lay  the  fish 
pond,  whose  calm  and  placid  bosom  was  undisturbed  save 
by  the  splashing  of  the  trout  or  the  white  swans  as  they 
swam  slowly  and  majestically  round  the  island.  The  timid 
deer  bounded  over  the  surface  of  the  wide  and  undulating 
park,  their  forms  at  one  moment  clearly  outlined  on  the 
crest  of  a  ridge  and  anon  disappearing  in  a  hollow,  their  tall 
antlers,  like  the  masts  of  a  ship  at  sea,  being  the  last  to  dip 
out  of  sight.  Further  away,  the  valley,  with  its  rich  adorn- 
ment of  woods,  and  herds  of  cattle  browsing  in  the  open 
spaces,  stretched  back  for  miles,  and  was  encircled  by  a  long 
range  of  hills  deeply  pierced  on  either  hand  by  the  bosky 
glens  of  Crawick  and  Euchan,  and  the  wild  Kello,  while  the 
western  sun,  as  he  sank  behind  the  brow  of  distant  Corsan- 
cone,  flooded  the  whole  with  a  rosy  light. 

"  The  air  a  solemn  stillness  holds," 

unbroken  save  by  the  lowing  of  cattle  as  they  are  driven 
home  to  milking,  the  distant  bleating  of  sheep,  and  the 
cawing  of  the  rooks,  as  in  great  flocks  they  pursue  their 
weary  flight  homeward  to  the  woods  of  Eliock,  while  jovial 
shouts  and  laughter  float  up  from  the  Bowling-Green  where 
gallant  knights  for  the  moment  forget  the  cares  of  state  and 
bury  their  mutual  jealousies  and  animosities. 

Copy  Letter  from  the  Earl  of  Queeusberry  to  his  Cousin, 
Douglas  of  Domock. 

ED.,  31  Autjt.,  1688. 
"  CUSIN, 

"  Soe  soon  as  possible  wreat  to  David  Reid  (to  whom  ther's  uoe 
occasion  going  from  this)  that  imediatly  he  meit  with  Wm.  Lukup,  and 
cause  him  send  some  of  his  men  to  Sanquhar  to  take  in  the  Chimneyes  of 
my  Chamber,  the  Drawing  Roume,  and  hall,  which  ar  by  a  great  deall  too 
large,  and  by  taking  them  in  as  they  ought,  will  both  make  the  Rouines 
warmer  and  prevent  smoaking.  This  is  to  be  done  with  the  tile  there, 
and  cannot  take  up  much  tyme  or  charges,  and  I'll  not  be  pleased  if  I  find 
it  not  done  when  I  come.  Lykewise  tell  David  to  take  exact  notice  to  the 
ovens,  both  in  the  kitchen  and  bakehouse,  and  if  they  be  any  way  faultie 

62  History  of  Sanquhar. 

that  they  be  presently  helped  and  made  sufficient,  for  it  will  not  be  proper 
those  things  be  doing  when  I'm  ther.  Tell  him  Lykewise  that  he  and 
Win.  Johnstone  consider  what  useless  Broken  pouter  (pewter)  is  there  and 
uufitt  to  be  made  use  off,  and  that  he  send  it  in  by  the  first  occasion  heir 
with  the  weight  of  it.  And  new  pouther  (pewter)  shall  be  sent  out  in 
place  of  it,  and  that  he  may  do  this  more  exactly,  tell  him  goe  throw  the 
wholle  Roumes  and  Wardrobes,  and  see  if  they  have  the  keyes  of  the 
Wardrob  at  Drumlangrig,  that  the  old  wash-basins  and  what  useless 
peader  (pewter)  he  finds  ther,  send  it  out,  and  if  there  be  any  usefull 
pewter  ther,  send  it  to  Sanquhar  and  keep  it  ther.  James  Weir  tells 
me  there  is  ane  old  Brewing  Lead  at  Sanquhar  quyt  useless,  and  that  it 
is  not  possible  to  mend  it,  order  David  and  Wm.  Johnstonne  to  con- 
sider it,  and  if  it  be  soe,  lett  the  said  Lead  be  sent  heir  with  one  of 
the  Retourued  Carts  from  Drumlanrig,  that  it  may  be  disposed  off.  But 
if  it  can  be  usefull  at  Drumlanrig  or  Sanquhar,  it's  still  to  be  keept. 
Tell  David  and  Wm.  Johnstone  to  cause  clear  the  Bartizans  of 
Sanquhar,  and  that  the  doors  be  made  sufficient  and  locks  putt  upon 
them.  Tell  Wm.  Johnstone  that  I  have  lost  the  state  of  provisions  to  be 
sent  to  Sanquhar  that  he  gave  me  when  he  was  heir,  soe  order  him  by  the 
first  occasion  to  send  me  ane  exact  note  of  everything  to  be  provided  and 
sent  from  this,  and  that  they  have  ther  thoughts  how  all  things  shall  be 
provided  to  the  best  advantage  in  the  country,  and  that  they  remember 
former  directions  and  have  every  thing  in  order.  Tell  David  that  he  kill 
presently  both  the  old  Bucks,  and  send  them  heir  cased  up,  as  James  Weir 
used  to  doe.  I  would  not  putt  them  to  this,  bot  that  David  in  his  letter 
assured  me  that  they  can  do  it  as  weill  as  James  Weir,  bot  tell  them  I'll 
take  it  verrie  ill  if  they  kill  the  wrong  deer,  soe  if  they  have  the  least 
distrust  of  themselves,  tell  them  not  to  Medle  with  it,  but  send  me  word 
and  I'll  wreat  to  James  Weir  to  go  ther.  James  Weir  tells  me  one  of  the 
bucks  to  be  killed  is  whyte  and  the  other  brown." 

CHAPTER       IV. 


the  person  of  the  William  de  Crichton,  already 
mentioned,  there  came  upon  the  scene  a  family  of 
power  and  influence  which,  though  they,  at  first, 
played  a  part  subordinate  to  the  older  family  of  the 
Edgars,  kept  their  ground,  and  acquired  by  purchase 
the  remaining  part  of  the  barony  of  Sanquhar  which 
belonged  to  that  family.  On  his  marriage  to  the  heiress  of 
Ryehill,  the  baronial  residence  was  transferred  to  the  much 
more  important  stronghold  of  Sanquhar  Castle,  where  his 
family  was  established  for  well  nigh  three  hundred  years, 
and  continued  the  leading  family  in  Upper  Nithsdale,  their 
history  being  largely  the  history  of  Sanquhar  during  that 
long  period  of  time.  That  being  the  case,  it  seems  proper 
to  give  here  a  record  in  a  summary  form  of 


According  to  Holingshed,  the  first  Crichton  came  over 
from  Hungary  with  Agatha,  widow  of  the  Saxon  Prince 
Edward,  when  her  daughter  married  Malcolm  III.,  in  1067. 
Thurstanus  de  Crichton  was  a  witness  to  the  foundation 
charter  of  the  Abbey  of  Holyrood  House  in  1128,  and 
Thomas  de  Crichton  swore  fealty  to  Edward  1.  for  lands  in 
Midlothian  in  1296.  His  two  sons  founded  the  families  of 
Sanquhar  (now  represented  in  the  female  line  by  the  Marquis 
of  Bute,  who  is  also  Earl  of  Dumfries)  and  of  Frendraught. 

64  History  of  Sanquhar. 

The  elder  son  became  possessed  of  half  the  barony  of 
Sanquhar  through  his  wife,  Isabelle  de  Ros,  and  subsequently 
purchased  the  remainder. 

Sir  Robert,  afterwards  Lord  Crichton  of  Sanquhar,  was 
made  Coroner  of  Nithsdale  in  1468,  and  he  received  from 
James  III.  a  grant  of  the  confiscated  Douglas  lands.  His 
cousin,  Sir  William  Crichton,  the  Chancellor,  was  also  created 
Lord  Crichton.  The  Crichtons  possessed  lands  in  Dryfesdale, 
Kirkpatrick,  in  the  barony  of  Kirkmichael,  and  in  the  barony 
of  Crawfordstown,  now  known  as  the  parish  of  Crawford  in 
Lanarkshire,  which  bounds  with  the  parish  of  Sanquhar. 
Before  the  Reformation,  the  Rectory  of  Kirkconnel  was 
leased  from  the  Abbey  of  Holyrood  for  £20  a  year  by  the 
Crichtons.  In  1494,  Ninian  Crichton,  a  layman,  was  parson 
of  Sanquhar.  By  the  marriage  of  James,  the  eldest  son  of 
Sir  Robert,  with  Lady  Janet  Dunbar,  the  family  succeeded 
to  the  barony  of  Frendraught-Gawin.  The  second  son  of 
Lord  Crichton  and  Lady  Janet  seems  to  have  married  a 
daughter  of  Johnstone  of  Elphinstone,  as  he  received  with 
his  wife  in  1479  the  lands  of  Drumgrey,  viz.,  Moling,  Monyge, 
Rahills,  &c.,  in  the  barony  of  Kirkmichael,  which  had  been 
conferred  by  David  II.  on  a  former  Adam  Johnstone,  and 
were  afterwards  confirmed  to  Sir  Gilbert  Johnstone  of 
Elphinstone  by  Crown  Charter  in  1471.  Margaret,  the 
daughter  of  the  second  Lord  Crichton  of  Sanquhar  and  his 
wife  Elizabeth  Murray,  married  William  Johnstone  of  Grait- 
ney,  and  was  the  ancestress  of  the  Johnstones  of  Galabank 
and  Fulford  Hall.  Estates,  however,  were  increased  or 
diminished  with  every  generation  at  that  period,  from  the 
custom  of  portioning  off  daughters  and  younger  sons  with 
land,  for  entails  were  not  restricted  to  the  senior  male  heir, 
but  to  heirs  male  generally,  or  to  both  heirs  male  and  female, 
and  this  led  to  frequent  exchanges  between  different  families. 
Land  that  was  brought  by  an  heiress  to  a  younger  son  is 
sometimes  found  a  few  years  later  in  the  hands  of  an  elder 
brother's  children,  though  he  may  himself  have  left  heirs, 

History  of  Sanquhar.  65 

An  arrangement  of  this  nature  was  made  by  the  two  families 
of  Crichton. 

The  Ninian  Crichton,  the  parson  of  Sanquhar,  above  re- 
ferred to,  was  tutor  or  guardian  to  his  nephews  and  niece,  the 
children  of  the  second  Baron  Crichton,  as  appears  by  various 
decrees  of  the  Lords  in  Council,  in  which  a  young  Robert, 
Lord  Crichton,  is  mentioned  in  1525,  who  does  not  appear  in 
any  of  the  published  pedigrees  of  the  Crichton  family,  the 
presumption  being  that  he  died  before  he  came  of  age.  His 
brother  William,  who  succeeded  him,  married  a  daughter  of 
Malcolm,  Lord  Fleming.  He  was  killed  at  Edinburgh,  about 
1556,  by  Lord  Sernple  in  the  house  of  the  Duke  of  Chatel- 
herault,  who  was  then  Governor  of  Scotland.  Not  only  was 
the  house  of  Crichton  connected  by  marriage  with  other 
leading  families  in  the  country,  but  they  would  appear  to 
have  been  favourites  at  Court,  and  were  entrusted  by  the 
Crown  with  the  discharge  of  important  public  offices.  Chief 
among  these  was  the  Sheriffship  of  Dumfries.  The  duties 
of  this  appointment,  in  those  days,  were  of  a  somewhat 
different  character  to  what  they  have  practically  become  in 
these  times  of  established  order.  Whereas  now  the  work  of  a 
Sheriff  is  almost  exclusively  of  a  judicial  nature,  and  the 
military  side  of  the  office  is  only  brought  into  view  during 
the  occurrence,  happily  now  very  rare,  of  a  riot,  in  those 
early  times  the  maintenance  of  the  peace  required  that  the 
Sheriff  of  this  border  county  should  be  a  man  of  some  military 
capacity,  and  of  firmness  and  resolution  of  temper. 

During  the  long-continued,  though  intermittent  war  that 
took  place  between  England  and  Scotland  through  the 
determined  efforts  made  by  the  former  to  bring  Scotland 
into  subjection,  measures  were  taken  by  the  lighting  of  what 
were  termed  "  bails  " —  that  is  bonfires — on  the  principal  hill 
tops  along  the  border,  and  northward  towards  the  heart  of 
the  country,  to  give  warning  to  the  barons  of  any  English 
invasion.  These  outbreaks  often  took  place  without  any 
previous  warning.  The  diplomatic  courtesy,  which  is  now 

66  History  of  Sanquhar. 

observed  among  civilised  nations  before  a  declaration  of  war 
is  made,  was  then  totally  unknown.  The  outbreak  was 
frequently  unpreceded  by  any  apparent  cause  of  quarrel,  but 
was  simply  a  case  of  unwarrantable,  unprovoked  aggression. 
It  was  gone  about,  therefore,  without  ceremony,  and  prepara- 
tions were  made  with  as  great  secrecy  as  possible.  The  time 
chosen  for  attack  was  that  which  best  suited  the  con- 
venience of  the  aggressor,  and  so  it  commonly  happened  that 
the  first  intimation  given  that  there  was  mischief  in  the 
wind  was  the  sudden  appearance  of  an  armed  force  on  the 
border.  Without  telegraphs  or  railways,  or  even  a  decent 
road,  the  message  of  warning  had  to  be  conveyed  in  some 
other  way  than  by  telegram,  letter,  or  courier.  The  means 
adopted  were  effectual  for  the  purpose,  and  very  appropriate. 
Stevenson,  who  is  quoted  by  Sir  Walter  Scott,  describes  the 
beacon  as  being  constructed  of  "a  long  and  strong  tree,  set 
up  with  a  long  iron  pole  across  the  head  of  it,  and  an  iron 
warder  fixed  on  a  stalk  in  the  middle  of  it  for  holding  a  tar 
barrel."  This  was  raised  on  the  principal  eminences,  and 
signalmen  were  appointed  to  apply  the  torch  when  the  light 
was  observed  on  the  next  station.  In  this  way  the  news 
spread  with  lightning-like  rapidity,  and  warning  was  given 
not  only  to  the  barons,  but  to  the  whole  of  their  vassals  and 
retainers  liable  to  military  service.  Fire  is  a  very  appropriate 
symbol  of  war,  and  of  the  "  red  ruin  "  which  it  brings  in  its 
train,  and  we  can  well  imagine  when  the  first  ray  of  fiery 
light  shot  up  from  the  mountain  peak,  kindling  the  blazing 
beacon,  which  shed  its  ruddy  glare  across  the  face  of  the 
midnight  sky,  how  picturesque  and  striking  the  scene  would 
be.  But  it  struck  no  terror  into  the  hearts  of  the  people  ; 
it  only  served  to  quicken  the  pulse,  and  stir  the  patriotic 
ardour,  of  our  stout-hearted  forefathers. 

"  Theirs  the  stern  joy  which  warriors  feel 
In  foemen  worthy  of  their  steel. " 

In  addition  to  the  judicial,  it  was  part  of  the  military 
duties  of  the  Sheriff  of  Dumfries — the  office  which  Crichton 

History  o/  Sanquhar.  67 

held — to  see  that  these  Bail-fires  were  lit  when  occasion 
demanded.  Corsancone  was  the  farthest  inland  of  these 
beacon  peaks.  From  its  top  the  signal  from  the  far  south 
could  be  seen,  and  thence  transmitted  northwards  along  the 
western  coast. 

The  office  of  Sheriff  was  of  ancient  origin,  but  there 
is  no  certainty  that,  prior  to  1296,  a  Sheriffdom  had 
been  created  in  Dumfries.  It  is  true  that  William  the  Lion, 
who  died  in  1212,  in  a  charter  enforcing  the  payment  of 
tithes  to  Jocelyn,  Bishop  of  Glasgow,  in  whose  diocese  the 
churches  in  Nithsdale  were  long  included,  addressed  it  to  his 
"justiciaries,  Sheriff,  and  all  other  his  ministers  and  bailiffs." 
But  these  may  have  been  mere  words  of  form  used  in  such 
documents,  just  as  we  find  a  set  form  of  words  employed  in 
the  charters  of  Royal  Burghs  at  a  later  time,  and  can  hardly 
be  adduced  as  proof  of  the  actual  existence  of  such  offices  in 
every  case  where  they  were  used.  There  is,  at  all  events,  no 
doubt  on  the  point  from  1305,  in  which  year  Edward  I. 
recognised  Dumfries  as  a  Sheriffdom,  and  appointed  Richard 
Syward  to  be  his  Sheriff  of  Dumfriesshire.  The  bounds  of 
this  officer's  jurisdiction,  however,  were  not  then  what  they 
subsequently  became.  A  different  polity  prevailed  in  Annan- 
dale,  where  the  jus  gladii,  the  law  of  the  sword,  was  granted 
by  David  I.  to  Robert  de  Brus.  In  process  of  time  the 
Sheriffship  of  Dumfries  became  hereditary.  Sir  William 
Douglas,  natural  son  of  Archibald,  lord  of  Galloway,  acquired 
by  his  marriage  with  the  Lady  Giles,  daughter  of  Robert  II., 
the  lordship  of  Nithsdale,  with  the  Sheriffship  of  Dumfries, 
and  so  strenuously  was  the  hereditary  principle  upheld,  even 
in  the  case  of  an  office  of  this  description,  that  it  was  vested 
in  a  female,  Giles,  called  the  Fair  Maid  of  Nithsdale,  the  only 
daughter  and  heiress  of  the  Lord  of  Nithsdale,  who  was 
killed  at  Dantzic  in  1390.  This  lady  sheriff  married  Henry 
Sinclair,  Karl  of  Orkney,  and  left  a  son,  William,  who 
inherited  Nithsdale  and  the  Sheriffship  of  Dumfries,  both  of 
which  he,  in  1455,  resigned  to  James  II.  for  the  Earldom  of 

68  History  of  Sanquhar. 

In  July,  1484,  the  traitors — the  Earl  of  Douglas  and  the 
Duke  of  Albany — who  had  deserted  their  country's  cause  and 
gone  over  to  her  English  enemies,  invaded  Dumfriesshire  at 
the  head  of  an  English  force.  The  country  gentlemen 
promptly  summoned  their  followers,  attacked  the  base 
intruders,  and  defeated  them.  Douglas  was  taken  prisoner, 
and  Albany  fled  back  to  England.  Crichton  of  Sanquhar, 
who  rendered  a  part  in  this  important  service,  was  rewarded 
by  an  addition  to  his  lands.  His  loyalty,  besides  being  thus 
recognised  in  a  substantial  manner,  would  appear  to  have 
brought  him  into  permanent  favour  with  the  King,  who,  in 
1487,  created  him  a  peer  of  Parliament  under  the  title  of 
Lord  Sauquhar.  He  had  previously  obtained  a  confirmation 
of  the  office  of  Sheriff  in  1464,  and  in  1468  he  acquired  a 
grant  of  the  office  of  Coroner  of  Nithsdale.  These  two  offices 
continued  hereditary  in  the  Crichton  family  for  200  years, 
till  they  were  disposed  of,  along  with  the  barony  of  Sanquhar, 
to  the  Earl  of  Queensberry.  The  Sheriffdom  of  Dumfries 
included  Annandale  and  Nithsdale,  with  the  Stewartry  of 
Kirkcudbright,  but  the  local  jurisdictions  restrained  the 
authority  of  the  Sheriff  almost  entirely  to  Nithsdale,  and 
even  there  it  was  still  further  curtailed,  in  1497,  through 
Douglas  of  Drumlanrig  obtaining  from  the  King  an  exemp- 
tion of  himself,  his  household,  and  tenants  from  the  jurisdic- 
tion of  the  Sheriff  of  Dumfries,  there  being  a  deadly  enmity 
between  the  two  lords. 

The  turbulent  barons  did  not  regard  the  King's  authority 
with  any  great  reverence,  and  the  office  of  Sheriff  was  there- 
fore no  sinecure.  As  an  instance  of  the  Jawless  and  violent 
habits  of  these  barons,  and  the  disturbed  social  conditions  of 
that  age,  we  read  that  at  the  time  when  Lord  Crichton  was 
holding  an  assize  in  the  year  1508  a  great  battle  was  fought 
outside  the  court-house  between  Maxwell  aided  by  John- 
stone,  and  others.  M'Dowall,  in  his  history  of  Dumfries,  gives 
the  following  account  of  the  affray  : — "  The  Crichtons  and 
Maxwells  had  grown  greatly  in  favour  since  the  fall  of  the 

History  of  Sanquhar.  69 

Douglasses.  There  had  long  been  a  deadly  feud  between 
the  two  houses,  which  was  intensified  by  the  circumstance 
that  Lord  Sanquhar  seemed  to  be  extending  his  influence 
over  Lower  Nithsdale  at  the  expense  of  Lord  Maxwell,  who, 
though  Steward  of  Annandale,  did  not  like  to  see  the  neigh- 
bouring Sheriffdom  possessed  by  his  rival.  The  idea  that  a 
district  occupied  by  many  of  his  own  adherents  should  be 
legally  presided  over  by  any  other  than  a  Maxwell  was  the 
reverse  of  pleasant  to  Lord  John  ;  that  it  should  be  placed 
under  the  sway  of  a  Crichton  was  deemed  by  him  intolerable. 
'  We  must  teach  this  aspiring  chief  a  lesson — let  him  see 
who  is  master  of  Dumfries,'  muttered  the  wrathful  Steward. 
Lord  Sanquhar  held  a  court  in  the  shire  town  towards  the 
close  of  July,  1508.  On  the  30th  of  that  month  no  trials 
were  proceeded  with — the  '  dittays  '  having  been  deserted — 
the  hall  of  justice  abandoned  for  the  Lower  Sandbeds,  where 
the  warlike  vassals  of  the  noble  Sheriff  stood  drawn  up  in 
battle  array,  prepared  in  some  degree  for  the  threatened 
onset,  of  which  he  had  received  timely  notice.  Lord  Max- 
well, at  the  head  of  a  considerable  force,  and  accompanied  by 
William  Douglas  of  Drumlanrig,  entered  the  town  by  the 
Annandale  road  from  the  south,  and  attacked  the  Crichton 
party  with  a  fury  that  was  irresistible.  How  long  the 
engagement  continued  is  not  known.  Sir  James  Balfour 
speaks  of  it  as  '  a  grate  feight ' — that  it  was  a  sanguinary 
one  is  beyond  any  doubt.  The  same  annalist  records  that 
'  Lord  Sanquhar  was  overthrown,  and  many  of  his  frindes 
killed.'  Bishop  Lesley,  describing  it,  says — '  Lord  Creychton 
was  chaissit  with  his  company  frae  Drumfries,  and  the  Laird 
of  Dalyell  and  the  young  laird  of  Cranchlay  slain,  with 
divers  uthers,  quhairof  thair  appeared  greit  deidly  feid  and 
bludshed.'  "  Thoroughly  routed,  Lord  Sanquhar  was  chased 
from  the  town,  over  which  he  professed  to  hold  rule  in  the 
King's  name — driven  for  refuge  to  his  castle  among  the  hills, 
leaving  his  exulting  rival,  if  not  Sheriff  of  Nithsdale,  undis- 
puted chief  of  its  principal  burgh.  Maxwell,  however  strange 
it  may  appear,  was  allowed  to  go  unpunished." 

70  History  of  Sanquhar. 

This  incident  not  only  illustrates  the  fierce  and  violent 
temper  of  Maxwell,  of  which  there  is  other  abundant  proof, 
and  the  jealousy  which  bred  much  of  the  perpetual  strife 
between  rival  families  and  afflicted  the  country  for  generations, 
but  also  the  feebleness  of  James's  government,  which  allowed 
to  go  unpunished  this  flagrant  outrage  on  his  own  authority 
in  the  person  of  his  legal  representative,  unless  we  are  to 
believe  that  he  looked  on  the  outcome  of  the  encounter  with 
cynical  indifference,  if  not  with  secret  satisfaction,  as  it 
appears  that  at  this  time  the  loyalty  of  the  Crichtons  was 
not  free  from  suspicion.  There  are  some  grounds  for  this 
belief,  for,  though  Maxwell  was  not  called  to  account,  others 
who  had  taken  part  in  the  affray,  such  as  Douglas  of  Drum- 
lanrig,  Ferguson  of  Craigdarroch,  and  his  son  Thomas,  had 
to  undergo  a  form  of  trial  on  30th  September,  1512,  at 
Edinburgh,  for  the  murder  of  Robert  Crichton,  a  nephew  of 
the  Sheriff's,  and  were  acquitted,  on  the  ground  that  the 
deceased  Robert  Crichton  was  "  our  soverane  lordis  rebell 
and  at  his  home  "  when  the  conflict  occurred. 

His  son  Robert  was  the  fourth  Lord  of  Sanquhar,  and  was 
married  to  Margaret  Cunningham.  He  died  without  issue, 
and  was  succeeded  by  his  brother  Edward,  who  married 
Margaret,  daughter  of  Sir  James  Douglas  of  Drumlanrig. 

In  1547,  after  the  disastrous  defeat  of  Pinkie,  the  shire  of 
Dumfries  was  reduced  to  a  state  of  complete  submission  to 
the  power  of  the  English,  and  the  whole  of  the  border  chiefs, 
with  the  exception  of  Douglas  of  Drumlanricke,  swore  fealty 
to  England.  A  record  of  the  transaction  has  been  preserved, 
and,  in  the  list  of  lairds  and  their  adherents  who  thus  sub- 
mitted, is  found  the  name  of  Edward  Crichton,  with  ten 

In  1565,  when  Murray  and  his  partisans  broke  out  into 
rebellion  on  account  of  Queen  Mary's  marriage  with  Lord 
Darnley,  they  were  driven  by  the  Queen's  forces  into  Dum- 
friesshire, where  they  received  a  cool  reception.  Lord  Crichton 
warmly  espoused  the  Queen's  cause,  and  was  honoured  with 

History  of  Sanquhar.  71 

a  command  in  the  advanced  guard  of  her  army,  under  the 
Earl  of  Lennox.  However,  he  faltered  for  a  time  in  his 
loyalty,  for  we  find  that  in  June,  1567,  he  was  one  of  the 
only  two  Dumfriesshire  chiefs  who  drew  their  treasonous 
swords  against  the  unhappy  Queen,  the  other  being  Douglas 
of  Drumlanrig.  Nevertheless  he  returned  to  his  allegiance,  for, 
when  Murray,  only  a  few  months  later,  assumed  the  regency, 
Lord  Sanquhar  deserted  him,  and  when  the  imprisoned  Queen 
escaped  from  Lochleven  Castle,  joined  her  at  Hamilton, 
and  fought  on  her  behalf  at  Langside.  On  the  flight  of 
Mary,  after  the  disastrous  defeat  of  her  army,  the  Regent 
collected  a  large  force  and  proceeded  south  to  chastise  the 
Queen's  adherents  in  Dumfriesshire.  The  first  place  of 
strength  which  he  attacked  was  Sanquhar  Castle,  which  he 
speedily  reduced  to  submission. 

While  the  office  of  Sheriff  of  the  County  was  held  by  Lord 
Sanquhar,  another  public  office  of  trust  was  at  this  period 
filled  by  a  member  of  the  family.  A  Privy  Council  Minute 
of  23rd  February,  1567,  bears  that  "  Maister  Robert  Creich- 
toun  of  Sanquhar,  Collector  of  Wigtoun,  Kirkcudbright, 
Dumfries,  and  Annanderdaill,  is  ordered  to  compeer  befoir 
the  Lords  Auditouris  of  Chekker  and  thair  make  compt  of 
his  intromissions  that  the  ministeris  and  thair  collectouris 
may  understand  quhat  is  taken  up  and  quhat  is  restand  to  be 
taken  up  by  them." 

It  is  well  known  to  all  who  have  the  slightest  know- 
ledge of  Scottish  history  that,  while  the  more  powerful 
nobles  were  almost  constantly  engaged  in  State  intrigues — 
in  the  struggle  for  place  and  power,  the  minor  barons 
were  incessantly  employed  in  mutual  plunder  and  harass- 
ment. The  Borders  were,  from  their  geographical  situation 
on  the  line  of  march  between  England  and  Scotland, 
in  an  almost  continual  state  of  disturbance.  Whatever 
parts  of  the  rival  kingdoms  might  escape  the  ravages  of  the 
long-continued  struggle  between  the  two  countries,  the 
Borders  were  sure  to  suffer.  The  description  that  applies  to 

72  History  of  Sanquhar. 

the  Scottish  barons  in  general  applies  in  an  especial  degree 
to  the  Border  chiefs.  And  little  wonder  that  this  should 
have  been  the  case.  The  necessity  which  called  them  from 
time  to  time  to  stand  up  in  defence  of  their  possessions 
naturally  bred  a  stout-hearted  race.  None  other  in  such  an 
age,  and  so  situated,  could  have  long  kept  their  ground. 
Those  members  of  the  Maxwell,  Johnstone,  Douglas,  and 
Scot  families  of  an  unwarlike  disposition  had  no  resource,  it 
is  significantly  said,  but  to  leave  Dumfriesshire.  Many  of 
them  repaired  to  Edinburgh,  where  they  became  merchants, 
and  attained  to  great  wealth.  In  no  part  of  the  country  was 
the  old  rule  in  more  effectual  operation — 

•'  That  they  should  take  who  have  the  power, 
And  they  should  keep  who  can." 

The  intervals  that  occurred  between  the  frequent  incursions 
of  the  English  into  Scotland,  or  the  Scottish  into  England, 
were  usually  too  brief  to  allow  the  borders  to  fall  into 
a  settled  state,  and  so  it  was  that,  during  these  intervals, 
the  border  chiefs  either,  tempted  by  their  proximity  to  the 
English  lauds,  attempted  on  their  own  account,  singly  or  in 
combination,  to  make  reprisals  for  the  losses  and  injuries 
they  had  sustained,  or  practised  the  game  of  plunder  upon 
each  other.  There  was  continual  strife  and  jealousy 
between  the  barons  of  the  two  sides  of  the  county — Annan- 
dale  and  Nithsdale — and  many  a  fierce  and  bitter  encounter 
was  the  result.  A  notable  case  of  the  kind  occurred  in  1593. 
"  The  notorious  Johnstone  of  Annandale,  who  had  joined 
the  Earl  of  Bothwell  in  an  attempt  to  seize  the  King's 
person,  had  been  shut  up  in  prison  in  Edinburgh  Castle  for 
his  treasonable  act.  Succeeding  eventually  in  making  his 
escape,  he  made  his  way  to  Lochwood.  He  had  been  only 
one  of  several  of  the  redoubtable  border  chiefs  who  had  been 
concerned  in  the  plot,  and  the  King,  with  his  accustomed 
weakness,  in  place  of  repressing  them  with  a  firm  hand,  visited 
Dumfriesshire,  and  offered  by  proclamation  a  pardon  to  all 
who  would  renounce  Bothwell  and  promise  loyal  behaviour 

History  of  Sanquhar.  73 

for  the  future.  These  merciful  conditions  were  accepted  by 
many,  though  not  by  Johnstoue." — M'Dowall's  History  of 
Dumfries.  The  latter,  with  his  clan,  marched  into  Niths- 
dale  and  ravaged  the  lands  of  Lord  Sanquhar  and  of  Douglas 
of  Drumlanrig.  He  was  a  gay  and  dissipated  character,  and 
was  therefore  called  "  The  Galliard."  He  was  caught  by 
Crichton's  men  while  in  the  act  of  seizing  one  of  their  horses, 
and  was  unceremoniously  hanged  in  the  presence  of  his 
nephew,  William  Johnstone  of  Kirkhill,  notwithstanding  the 
entreaties  of  the  latter.  His  followers,  pursued  by  the 
Crichtons  with  the  object  of  recovering  the  cattle  which  had 
been  stolen  from  them,  stood  at  bay,  and,  stung  doubtless  by 
the  humiliating  fate  of  their  chief,  they  fought  with  despera- 
tion, so  that  many  of  their  enemies  fell  in  the  skirmish. 

"  This  bloody  battle  is  referred  to  in  an  old  ballad.  The 
appeal  of  the  '  Galliard  '  for  mercy  is  thus  expressed — 
'  O  !  Simmy,  Simmy  ! ' — so  he  pleaded  with  his  captor, 
Sirnon  of  the  side — 

'  0  !  Simmy,  Simmy,  now  let  me  gang, 
And  I'll  ne'er  mair  a  Crichton  wrang  ; 
O  !  Simmy,  Simmy,  now  let  me  be, 
And  a  peck  o'  gowd  I'll  gie  to  thee.' 

The  appeal  was,  as  we  have  said,  in  vain,  and  the  sequel  is 
thus  described  :  — 

'  Back  tae  Nithsdale  they  hae  gane, 
And  awa  the  Crichtons'  nowt  hae  taen  ; 
And  when  they  cam  to  the  Wellpath-head, 
The  Crichtons  bade  them  '  Light  and  lead. ' 

'  Light  and  lead,'  that  is  dismount  and  give  battle. 

'  Then  out  spoke  Willie  of  Kirkhill, 
Of  fighting,  lads,  ye'se  hae  your  fill  ; 
And  from  his  horse  Willie  he  lap, 
And  a  burnished  brand  in  his  hand  he  gat. 

'  Out  through  the  Crichtons  Willie  he  ran, 
And  dang  them  down,  baith  horse  and  man, 
O,  but  the  Johnstones  were  wondrous  rude, 
When  the  Biddes  Burn  ran  three  days  blude. ' 


74  History  of  Sanquhar. 

The  Biddes  Burn  is  a  brook  running  between  Nithsdale 
and  Annandale,  near  the  head  of  the  Evan." — M'DowaWs 

The  Crichtons  appealed  for  redress  to  Lord  Maxwell, 
Warden  of  the  Marches,  but  more  effectual  means  were 
taken  to  bring  to  the  notice  of  the  authorities  the  dire 
results  of  this  raid.  A  remarkable  scene  was  subsequently 
presented  in  Edinburgh.  "  Fifteen  poor  widows  from 
Sanquhar  came  to  complain  to  the  King  that  their  husbands, 
sons,  and  servants  were  cruelly  murdered  by  the  Laird  of 
Johnstone,  themselves  '  spoiled,'  and  nothing  left  them. 
Finding  that  they  could  obtain  no  satisfaction,  the  poor 
women,  who  had  carried  with  them  the  bloody  shirts  of  their 
dead  husbands,  roused  the  popular  feeling  of  the  city  by 
marching  through  the  streets,  carrying  the  blood-stained 
clothing.  This  took  place  on  Monday,  the  23rd  July.  The 
people  were  much  moved,  and  cried  out  for  vengeance  upon 
the  King  and  Council."*  Ultimately,  however,  Lord  Maxwell, 
as  Warden,  was  enjoined  to  execute  justice  on  this  turbulent 
clan.  The  injured  chiefs  and  others  joined  to  assist  Maxwell. 
Thereupon  Johnstone  secured  the  adhesion  of  the  Scotts, 
Elliots,  and  Grahams,  and  a  contest  ensued  which  involved 
the  whole  of  the  principal  Border  clans.  A  preliminary 
battle  took  place  at  Lochmaben,  in  which  Johnstone  was 
victorious,  but  the  decisive  engagement  was  fought  in 
December  at  Dryfesands,  where  Maxwell  assembled  a  body 
of  2000  men,  displaying  the  King's  banner  as  the  royal 
lieutenant.  The  Johnstones  and  their  allies,  though  over- 
powered in  numbers,  fought  with  such  desperate  valour  as 
to  rout  the  King's  lieutenant  and  the  royal  army,  Maxwell 
himself  being  slain.*f 

The  character  and  habits  of  the  Crichtons,  of  both  the 
head  of  the  family  who  ruled  from  Sanquhar  Castle,  and  the 
minor  branches  who  possessed  little  lairdships  in  the  neigh- 
bourhood, differed  in  no  respect  from  those  of  their  order 

*  Dumfries  Magazine,  t  M'Dowall's  History. 

History  of  Sanquhar.  75 

throughout  the  whole  south  country.  They  quarrelled  fiercely 
with  their  neighbours,  readily  resorting  to  violence  in  the 
gratification  of  their  revenge  or  in  the  pursuit  of  their 
schemes  of  plunder  and  spoliation  ;  while  towards  their 
inferiors  they  behaved  in  an  insolent  and  over-bearing 
manner.  Indeed,  they  were  a  bold,  masterful  race,  not 
hesitating  to  act  in  defiance  of  the  orders  of  even  the  King 
in  Council.  Their  name  frequently  appears  in  the  records 
of  the  Privy  Council,  charged  with  deeds  of  turbulent  law- 
lessness ;  they  were  bound  over  in  heavy  sureties  to  keep 
the  peace,  and,  on  one  occasion,  a  Crichton  was  doomed  to 
confinement  in  Edinburgh  Castle  during  the  King's  pleasure. 
The  family  of  Hamilton  was  contemporary  with  that  of 
Crichton,  and  possessed  considerable  power  and  influence,  as 
is  evidenced  by  a  complaint  made  in  1579  by  Williame 
D unbar  as  follows  : — 

"  William  Hammiltoun  of  Sanquhar,  having  consavitane  deidlie  hettreut 
and  malice  causles  aganis  the  said  Williame  Dunbar,  upon  the  xiii.  day  of 
Aprile  last  bipast,  come  to  his  place  at  Enterkin  quhairin  he  dwellis  and 
remains  presentlie  accumpanyit  with  tuentie  horsmen  or  hairby,  bodin  in 
weirlyke  maner,  with  lang  gunnis'and  pistolettis  prohibit  to  be  worne 
be  oure  actis  of  Parliament  and  Secreit  Couusale,  jakis,  steilbonnatis, 
swirdis,  and  uther  wappynins  invasive  and  thair  be  way  of  hamesuckin, 
serchit  and  socht  the  said  Willieme  Dunbar  for  his  slauchter  and  destruc- 
tiouri  and  the  said  Williame  Hammiltoun  finding  himself  be  his  non  appre- 
hensioun  disappointit  of  his  weikit  purpois,  brak  doun  his  dykis  and  yettis 
of  his  fenssis  and  hainingis  not  litill  to  his  hurt  and  scaith.  Farther,  the 
said  Williame  Hammiltoun  for  execution  of  his  ewill  will  aganis  the  said 
William  Dunbar,  dalie  be  plane  force  and  way  of  deid  oppressis  and  com- 
mittis  reiffis,  spulzeis  of  horssis,  cornis,  cattell  and  utheris  guidis  upoun  his 
puir  tennentis  of  the  landis  of  Sornis,  Mosgavill,  Dykesdaill,  the  mains 
Grenok  and  Eistir-Sanquhar,  swa  that  be  frequent  reiffis  and  oppressionis 
foirsaidis  the  saidis  puir  tennentis  ar  allutterlie  wrakit. " 

Hamilton  failed  to  appear  on  pain  of  horning,  and  the  penalty 
was  ordered  to  take  effect.  Poor  Dunbar's  plaint  describes 
in  quaint  and  graphic  language  the  manner  and  circumstance 
of  the  regular  reiving  raids  which  were  being  perpetrated 
daily  at  this  period  among  the  petty  chiefs  and  barons  all 
along  the  debateable  land. 

76  History  of  Sanquhar. 

The  minor  branches  of  the  Crichtou  family  did  not  fail  to 
imitate  the  manners  of  their  feudal  head.  They  held  petty 
lairdships  in  the  neighbourhood — Ryehill.  Ardoch,  Gareland 
Carne,  and  others,  and,  possibly  emboldened  by  the  fact  that 
the  Lord  of  Sanquhar,  the  King's  Justiciary  of  the  district, 
was  their  friend,  they  carried  things  with  a  high  hand. 

In  1566,  complaint  is  made  by  one  William  Flemyng,  a 
burgess  of  Edinburgh— 

"  That  Ninian  Creichtoun  in  Carne,  Robert  Creichtoun,  Andro  Creich- 
toun,  brether  german  and  Robert  Creichtoun  their  bruther  naturall 
invaidit  the  said  William  and  mutilat  him  in  his  rycht  arme  quhairthrow 
he  is  impotent  and  unabill  to  work  for  his  leving  ;  that  they  on  na  wayis 
wald  find  souertie  and  thairefter  was  put  to  the  horne  ;  that  they  were 
reparand  dailie  in  company  with  Edward  Lord  Creichtoun,  Sheref  of 
Dumfreis  ;  that  the  said  Sheref  had  been  chargeit  sundry  tymes  to  haif 
usit  justice  upon  thaime,  but  refusing,  he  was  chargeit  to  haif  compeirit 
befoir  the  Lords  of  Secreit  Counsall  to  answer  for  his  eontemptiouu. 
Lord  Creichton  failed  to  appear,  and  is  commandit  and  chargeid  to  present 
himself  before  the  Soverain  and  thair  Lordships  under  all  hieast  pane  and 
offence. " 

William  Creichtoun,  in  1579,  is  bound  over  not  to  harm 
Patrick  M'Crerik,  burgess  of  Sanquhar,  and,  by  a  separate 
caution,  the  said  William  Creichtoun,  in  his  capacity  as 
Sheriff  of  Dumfries,  is  bound  over  that  he  will  enter  M'Crerik 
peaceably  into  certain  specified  "  leggis  of  land  with  houses 
lying  in  the  burgh  of  Sanquhar,  and  will  not  molest  him  in 
the  possession  of  the  same  afterwards."  Some  time  before,  in 
1576,  a  complaint  had  been  made  to  the  Council  against 
William  Creichtoun,  Tutor  of  Sanquhar,  by  Robert  Dalyell 
of  that  Ilk,  Cristiane  Dalyell,  Lady  Covingtoun,  and  James 
Lindesay  in  Auchintagairt,  "  tuiching  the  unbesetting  of 
thair  gait  within  the  town  of  Sanquhar,  in  the  month  of 
October  last  bipast,  and  stopping  theme  to  cum  to  the  kirk 
of  Sanquhair  besydis  the  invasiouu  of  the  said  James  Linde- 
say for  his  slauchter."  Then  in  1579  Creichtoun,  described 
by  the  same  title,  "  was  ordained  to  find  caution  of  500 
merks,  which  he  did  by  the  hands  of  Johnne  Gordon  of 
Lochinvar,  that  he  shall  not  impede  or  trouble  Elizabeth  and 

History  of  Sanquhar.  77 

Margaret  Stewart,  daughters  of  the  late  James,  Earl  of 
Murray,  in  the  uptaking  of  the  maills  of  the  lordship  of 
Sanquhar  belonging  to  them  as  donators  during  the  time  of 
the  ward  and  nonentres  of  the  said  lordschip." 

It  would  be  interesting  to  know  if  this  William  Creichloun 
was  the  same  as  he  who  was  included  in  a  list  of  persons 
ordered  to  be  banished  furth  the  realm  by  the  Act  of  Parlia- 
ment passed  in  1587.  This  measure  was  for  the  purpose  of 
purging  the  land  of  popery,  and  charges  all  Jesuits  and 
seminary  priests  to  leave  the  country  within  one  month, 
'under  pain  of  death.  Certain  Commissioners  are  appointed, 
who  are  enjoined — 

"To  apprehend  and  either  present  for  trial  before  the  justice  in  the 
Tollbuith  of  Edinburgh  or  themselves  try  and  administer  justice  upon  the 
following  classes  of  offenders  :  ( 1 )  Jesuits  and  seminary  priests,  including 
Mr  James  Gordon,  uncle  of  the  Earl  of  Huntley,  Mr  Edmund  Hay,  brother 
of  the  goodman  of  Meginche,  Mr  William  Creichtoun,  etc. ,  in  cais  they  sal 
not  depairt  furth  of  this  realm  and  enter  themselffis  to  the  Provost  of 
Edinburgh  to  be  lingut  quhile  the  occasioun  serve  to  transporte  thame 
according  to  the  proclamatioun  publist  to  that  effect.  (2)  Rebels  reman- 
ing at  the  horn  for  slauchteris  or  sic  utheris  odious  crymes.  (3)  Sinners, 
brigands,  and  masterful  vagabonds. " 

The  Lords  of  Sanquhar  and  Elliock  would  seem  to  have 
eyed  each  other  across  the  river,  from  their  respective  strong- 
holds, with  jealousy  and  hatred.  The  Privy  Council  Records 
shew  that,  in  1610,  Robert,  Lord  Creichtoun,  on  the  one  part, 
and  Sir  Robert  Dalyell  of  that  Ilk  and  Sir  Robert  Dalyell, 
his  son  and  apparent  heir  (the  Dalyells  were  then  the  lairds 
of  Elliock),  were  called  to  answer  "  for  certain  mutual 
challangeis  of  provocation  and  defyance."  The  younger 
Dalyell  is  "  committit  to  ward  in  Edinburgh  Castle "  for 
having  "  utterit  some  uncomlie  and  undiscrete  speeches  im- 
porting a  provocation  and  brag  aganis  the  Lord  Sanquhair;" 
while  Lord  Sanquhair  and  the  elder  Sir  Robert  Dalyell  are 
"  bound  over  to  find  caution  to  keep  the  peace,  the  former 
5000  rnerks,  the  latter  3000  merks."  This  Lord  Robert 
Creichtoun,  though  he  would  appear  to  have  been  the 

78  History  of  Saviquhar. 

aggrieved  party  in  the  above  instance,  was  himself  a  fre- 
quent offender  against  public  order,  and  was  often  cited 
before  the  Privy  Council  on  the  complaint  of  his  neighbours 
of  his  tyrannical  conduct,  and  bound  over  by  heavy  sureties 
to  keep  the  peace.  Considering  that  he  held  the  King's 
commission  as  Sheriff  and  Justiciary  of  Nithsdale,  his  con- 
duct was  all  the  more  reprehensible,  and  constituted  a  bad 
example  to  those  who  were  under  his  jurisdiction. 

In  1597,  Thomas  Kirkpatrick  of  Closeburn  complained  to 
the  Council  that  "  Robert,  Lord  Creichtoun  of  Sanquhar, 
Sheriff  Principal  of  Dumfries,  intends  now  under  the  pretext 
and  cullour  of  justice  and  be  the  authoritie  of  his  office  of 
sheriffship  or  commissioun  of  justiciare  to  utter  his  haitreut 
and  malice  aganis  the  said  Thomas  Kirkpatrick,  his  kin> 
freindis,  tennantis,  and  servandis,"  and  in  particular  that  he 
had  "  putt  violent  hands  on  Johnne  Wilsoun  his  tennant 
and  servand  quhome  be  direckit  to  the  said  Lord  with  a 
missive  letter  and  detanis  him  in  strait  firmance."  Lord 
Sanquhar  does  not  appear  to  have  had  any  reason  of  quarrel 
with  Kirkpatrick  personally,  but,  having  entered  into  a  bond 
of  friendship  with  Sir  James"  Douglas  of  Drumlanrig  (they 
are  described  in  the  complaint  as  "  brethir  and  suster's 
bairns  "),  who  was  Kirkpatrick's  mortal  enemy,  Lord  San- 
quhar conceived  that  he,  too,  must  quarrel  with  the  latter. 
The  probability  is  that  he  was  instigated  by  Sir  James,  and 
that  he  was  thus  led  to  prostitute  his  high  judicial  office  to 
gratify  the  revenge  of  a  friend.  Lord  Sauquhar  is  also 
charged  in  the  complaint  by  Kirkpatrick  with  "  the  schame- 
full  and  cruel  wounding  of  Johnne  Williamson n  of  Castle 
Robert,  the  said  Thomas'  servand  and  depeudair,"  and  Kirk- 
patrick concludes  by  requesting  that  redress  be  given  him, 
and  that  he  and  his  friends,  tenants,  servants,  &c.,  should  be 
exempted  from  the  jurisdiction  of  Lord  Creichtoun  as  Sheriff. 
The  Lords  of  the  Privy  Council  granted  the  prayer  of  the 
petition  in  both  particulars,  but,  notwithstanding,  Lord 
Creichtoun,  in  defiance  of  both  King  and  Council,  "  causit 

History  of  Sanquhar.  79 

execute  the  said  tennant  to  the  deid,  quhaw  wes  a  trew  man, 
nevir  spotted  nor  suspect  of  any  sic  crymes  as  he  falslie 
objectit  against  him,  whereby  he  usurped  upon  him  his 
Majesties  princely  power  in  executiouu  of  his  Majesties 
subjectis  without  warrand  or  power."  Both  parties  were  of 
course  called,  when  Lord  Creichtoun's  defence  was  that — 

"  He  had  put  the  said  Johnne  to  the  knowledge  of  an  assize  for  certain 
crimes  of  theft  committed  by  him  and  that  the  said  Johnne  having  been 
found  guilty,  he  had  caused  him  to  be  executed  by  virtue  of  the  commis- 
sion given  to  him  to  that  effect — being  then  ignorant  that  the  said 
commission  had  been  before  discharged. "  The  King,  with  advice  of  the 
Council,  in  respect  of  the  said  Lord's  "  wrongous  proceeding  aganis  the 
said  Johnne  AVilsoun  eftir  he  was  discharged  in  manner  foirsaid  and  con- 
tempt thairthrouch  done  to  his  Hieness  "  ordains  him  to  enter  in  ward  in 
the  Castle  of  Edinburgh  within  twenty-four  hours  hereafter,  and  remain 
there  till  he  be  freed  by  his  Majesty,  and  in  the  meantime  suspends  and 
discharges  the  said  commission,  of  which  intimation  is  ordered  to  be  made 
by  open  proclamation  at  the  Market  Cross  of  Dumfries. 

It  must  not  be  concluded  from  these  and  other  similar 
incidents  in  his  career  that  this  lord  was  ignorant  and 
untutored — a  man  of  ungovernable  passions,  belonging  to 
the  class  of  petty  barons  who  had  only  partially  emerged 
from  a  state  of  barbarism.  He  certainly  was  not  superior  to 
the  vices  of  his  age,  and  was  apt  to  be  self-willed  and 
obstinate  in  maintaining  the  privileges  of  his  order,  but  he 
was  a  man  withal  of  high  natural  endowments,  and  also  of 
cultivation  and  refinement  of  manners,  the  latter  the  result 
of  residence  at  Court  and  of  foreign  travel.  "  He  was,"  says 
the  historian,  Aikman,  "  a  man  of  rare  courage  and  wit,  and 
endowed  with  many  excellent  gifts  as  well  natural  as 
acquired;"  and  therefore  it  was  that  he  took  a  prominent 
place  in  the  state,  being  a  favourite  with  his  Sovereign. 
His  name  is  found  in  the  Convention  of  Estates  in  1596  and 
1597,  during  which  years  he  also  sat  at  many  meetings  of 
the  Privy  Council. 

When  James  succeeded  to  the  English  throne  in  1603, 
there  followed  in  his  train,  across  the  border,  a  number  of 
Scottish  nobles,  among  them  Lord  Sanquhar.  Creichtoun 

80  History  of  Sanquhar. 

counted  among  his  many  accomplishments  that  of  being  a 
skilful  fencer.  In  a  spirit  of  bravado  he  sought  to  give  an 
exhibition  of  his  skill  at  the  expense  of  a  fencing-master 
named  Turner,  in  his  own  school,  and  in  the  presence  of  his 
pupils.  Sanquhar  pressed  the  fencing-master  so  hard  that 
he  lost  an  eye  by  an  unlucky  thrust  of  his  opponent's  foil. 
When  Creichtoun  visited  the  French  Court  some  time  after, 
the  King  inquired  how  he  came  by  the  accident,  and,  on  being 
informed,  sarcastically  asked — "  And  does  the  fellow  yet 
live  ? "  Stung  to  the  quick  by  the  taunt  of  the  King,  which 
implied  an  imputation  on  the  courage  of  this  high-spirited 
lord,  he,  on  his  return,  took  counsel  with  two  of  his  servants, 
who  were  brothers,  named  Robert  and  William  Carlyle. 
The  result  was  that  the  fencing-master  was  assassinated  by 
Robert,  just  as  he  was  entering  his  lodging.  The  murder 
created  a  great  sensation,  more  particularly  in  the  state  of 
feeling  among  the  English  towards  the  Scottish  nobles,  which 
was  one  of  great  jealousy  and  antipathy.  That  Lord  Sanquhar 
and  the  assassin's  brother  William  were  accessory  to  the 
crime  was  plain  from  the  fact  that  all  three  immediately  fled 
into  hiding,  in  the  hope,  apparently,  that  the  matter  might  in 
time  blow  over ;  but,  "  hearing  that  £1000  were  offered  for 
his  head,  Sanquhar,"  says  Crawford  in  his  Peerage  of  Scot- 
land, "  resigned  himself  to  the  King's  mercy,  and  acknow- 
ledged the  murder.  But  no  intercession  could  prevail.  His 
life  satisfied  the  law,  for  he  was  executed  before  the  gates  of 
Westminster,  the  29th  June,  1612."  Aikman  remarks — 
"  His  death  excited  universal  regret.  The  eloquence  of  his 
discourse  at  his  trial,  and  the  civility  and  discretion  of  his 
behaviour  there  made  the  people  bewail  his  fall  with  great 

Thus  perished  one  of  the  greatest  and  most  accomplished 
of  all  the  Crichtons.  The  crime  of  which  he  was  guilty 
could  in  no  case  be  justified,  still  there  is  to  be  said  for  him 
that  he  had  harboured  no  feeling  of  malice  or  revenge.  The 
words  of  the  French  King,  sounding  in  his  ears  as  the  voice 

History  of  Sanquhar.  81 

of  the  tempter,  had  goaded  him  on  to  the  perpetration  of 
the  dark  deed,  out  of  a  false  sense  of  what  was  due  to  his 
honour.  His  was  no  end  of  sordid  selfishness  or  private 
aggrandisement,  which,  in  this  comparatively  rude  age, 
prompted  to  many  a  foul  deed.  In  all  likelihood  this  had 
been  the  case  with  some  who  now,  with  a  fine  affectation  of 
virtue,  expressed  their  horror  at  his  crime  and  loudly 
clamoured  for  his  punishment.  The  code  of  morality  was 
not  in  those  times  so  very  high '  but  that  deeds  of  quite  as 
black  a  character  as  Creichtoun's  were  readily  enough  con- 
doned where  the  offender  could,  like  him,  command  powerful 
influence  at  Court,  but  he  had  the  misfortune  to  be  convicted 
at  a  time  when  national  jealousy  between  the  English  and 
Scots  ran  high.  The  English  nobility  were  not  reconciled  to 
the  accession  to  their  throne  of  James,  the  King  of  Scotland, 
a  small  kingdom  for  which  they  had  a  lofty  contempt,  and 
whose  high-spirited  and  warlike  people  had  long  and  success- 
fully resisted  all  attempts  at  subjugation  to  English  rule. 
They  could  not,  it  was  true,  dispute  James's  right  to  the 
English  throne,  but  all  the  same  they  regarded  him  as  an 
intruder,  an  idea  which,  it  must  be  confessed,  James's 
character  and  manners  were  not  calculated  to  modify  or 
overcome.  Further,  the  influx  of  Scots  who  followed  their 
King  across  the  border,  and  their  bearing,  which,  in  the  eyes 
of  these  haughty  English  nobles,  savoured  of  presumption, 
created  a  feeling  of  antipathy  which,  in  process  of  time, 
affected  the  minds  of  the  common  people  as  well.  At  such 
a  time  and  in  such  a  condition  of  feeling,  then,  it  was  that 
Creichtoun's  trial  took  place.  We  need  not  be  surprised, 
therefore,  that  he  was  sentenced  to  suffer  the  extreme  penalty 
of  the  law,  and  that  all  the  powerful  influence  which  was  put 
forth  at  Court  on  his  behalf  was  unavailing.  At  the  .same 
time,  it  is  alleged,  in  Osborne's  Secret  History  of  State  Trials, 
vol.  I.  p.  231,  that  James  bore  Lord  Sanquhar  a  grudge  "for 
his  love  to  the  King  of  France,  and  his  not  making  any  reply 
when  he  (the  French  King)  said  in  his  presence,  to  one  that 


82  History  of  Sanqukar. 

called  our  James  a  second  Solomon,  that  he  hoped  he  was 
not  the  son  of  David  the  fiddler."  Creichtoun  may,  at  all 
events,  be  regarded  as  partly  a  scapegoat,  delivered  over  to 
pacify,  if  that  were  possible,  the  feelings  of  jealousy  and 
resentment  entertained  by  the  English  nobility  towards  the 
Scots  in  general,  and  in  particular  towards  those  Scottish 
nobles  who  were  becoming  powerful  rivals  to  them  at  Court. 
Confirmation  of  this  view  is  derived  from  Calderwood,  who, 
writing  of  the  affair,  says  : — 

"  To  content  the  Englishe,  the  King  consented  that  Sanquhar  should 
be  hangit.  For  the  greater  contempt  of  our  nobilitie  he  was  hangit 
among  a  number  of  theevs."  Crawford  also  remarks — "To  understand 
the  reason  of  the  King's  exemplary  severity  in  this  case,  one  must 
remember  the  extreme  antipathy  to  the  Scots  that  had  for  some  years  been 
prevalent  among  the  English,  and  especially  among  the  Londoners,  and 
one  of  the  chief  causes  of  which  was  the  insolence  and  swaggering  behaviour 
of  the  young  Scottish  lords  and  knights  about  the  Court.  Under  peril  of 
a  popular  insurrection  in  London  against  the  Scottish  favourites,  James 
did  not  dare  to  pardon  Lord  Sanquhar,  whose  execution,  indeed,  did  some- 
what appease  the  vehemence  of  the  Anti-Scottish  clamour." 

William,  the  seventh  Lord  Crichtou,  was,  it  is  said,  served 
heir  to  the  preceding  Lord  Crichton  in  1619,  and  yet  there 
is  no  doubt  that  King  James  was  entertained  by  Crichton 
at  Sanquhar  Castle  in  1617.  It  would  appear,  therefore, 
that,  if  the  statement  be  correct  that  he  was  not  served  heir 
till  1619,  he  had,  on  the  execution  of  his  predecessor,  entered 
quietly  into  possession  without  venturing  to  make  application 
for  the  legal  instruments  connected  with  his  formal  entry. 
He  would  no  doubt  be  aware  that  the  perpetration  of  such  a 
crime,  and  the  execution  of  the  guilty  noble,  frequently 
resulted  in  the  forfeiture  of  his  title  and  the  confiscation  of 
his  estates,  and  so,  with  characteristic  Scotch  caution,  he 
may  have  resolved  to  "let  sleeping  dogs  lie" — to  say  nothing 
so  long  as  he  was  left  undisturbed.  If  that  be  the  correct 
explanation  of  what  appears  somewhat  puzzling,  then  we  can 
understand  how  the  visit  of  King  James  to  Scotland  would 
present  itself  to  Crichton's  mind  as  a  favourable  opportunity 
for  obtaining  recognition  as  the  legal  as  well  as  the  virtual 

History  of  Sanquhar.  83 

owner  of  the  family  patrimony.  Besides,  the  claim  which 
Crichton  might  seek  to  establish  on  the  King's  favour  by 
his  hospitable  entertainment  of  him  would  be  materially 
strengthened  by  the  fact  that  he  held  the  King's  bond  for  a 
large  sum  of  money  lent  him.  This  loan  may  have  been 
raised  by  the  King  as  a  sort  of  "  hush-money,"  Crichton 
being,  in  the  circumstances,  entirely  in  his  sovereign's  power, 
so  far  as  his  title  and  lands  were  concerned.  Be  that  as  it 
may,  there  had  been  a  transaction  of  borrowing  and  lending 
between  them.  The  King's  visit  to  Scotland  took  place  in 
1617,  fourteen  years  after  he  had  ascended  the  English 
throne.  He  was  accompanied  by  a  splendid  train  of  courtiers, 
headed  by  the  brilliant  and  handsome  Duke  of  Buckingham 
— "  the  glass  of  fashion  and  the  mould  of  form."  He  pro- 
ceeded by  the  east  coast  to  Edinburgh,  which  he  reached  on 
the  18th  of  May  (?)  and,  returning  by  the  west,  he  passed 
down  Nithsdale,  reaching  Sanquhar  Castle  on  the  31st  July, 
where  he  was  right  royally  entertained.  Simpson,  without 
disclosing  his  authority,  gives  the  following  traditional 
account  of  the  festivities,  which,  notwithstanding  the  mani- 
fest touches  of  exaggeration  here  and  there,  has  on  the  whole 
such  an  air  of  probability  that  it  may  be  quoted  : — 

"  The  King,  and  Crichton,  the  lord  of  the  manor,  and  at  the  time  the 
occupant  of  the  castle  commonly  called  '  Crichton  Peel,'  had  been  very 
intimate  companions,  and  James,  on  a  tour  through  Scotland  after  he  had 
ascended  the  English  throne,  came  through  Ayrshire  and  down  Nithsdale 
to  Sanquhar  to  visit  Crichton  in  his  peel.  The  occasion  was  one  of  great 
excitement  and  hilarity,  and  the  rude  populace  of  the  strath  poured  forth 
in  crowds  to  testify  their  fealty,  and  to  witness  the  trappings  of  royalty. 
This  visit  being  anticipated,  Crichtou  had  prepared  a  sumptuous  entertain- 
ment, so  that  when  the  King  came,  the  stately  avenue  which  led  to  the 
castle  gate  (and  which  in  the  last  generation  only  was  hewed  down),  the 
lofty  trees  arching  overhead  like  a  fretted  gothic  dome,  was  not  only  lined 
with  people,  but  it  is  said  with  the  goodly  casks  of  the  "  bluid-red  wine," 
which  flowed  copiously,  and  so  copiously  that  the  hoofs  of  the  horses  of 
the  royal  cavalcade  were  bathed  in  the  ruddy  stream.  Within  the  peel  the 
festivities  were  splendid,  and  such  '  dancing  and  deray  '  were  never  seen 
in  old  Sanquhar  before  nor  since.  The  hall  was  lighted  up  with  brilliancy, 
and  the  large  castle  lamp,  placed  in  the  centre  of  the  festive  board,  was 

84  History  of  Sanqukar. 

graced  with  a  wick  well-pleasing  to  the  King,  but  rather  costly  to  his  host : 
for  Crichton,  stepping  forward  with  a  lordly  port,  in  presence  of  his 
sovereign  and  all  the  guests,  extracting  the  blazing  wick  from  the  lamp, 
inserted  another  of  a  cylindrical  form,  made  of  parchment,  containing  a 
large  account  of  a  sum  of  borrowed  money  against  the  King,  which  the 
noble-minded  baron,  in  the  excess  of  his  loyalty,  committed  to  the  flames, 
and  thus  extinguished  the  debt  for  ever." 

Another  version  of  the  story  of  the  burning  of  the  bond  is 
that  Crichton  crowned  the  evening's  entertainment  by  rolling 
it  into  the  form  of  a  torch  and  lighting  the  King  to  bed  with 
it.  Whatever  form  it  took,  it  was  a  dramatic  display  of  reck- 
less loyalty,  which  could  not  but  be  highly  gratifying  to  the 
King.  One  naturally  wonders,  however,  what  Crichton  himself 
thought  of  it  and  of  the  whole  matter  of  the  King's  visit, 
when  he  had  time  to  reflect  and  to  count  up  the  cost.  Then, 
as  well  as  now,  a  royal  visit  to  a  noble  was  esteemed  a  high 
honour,  but  there  was  a  reverse  side  to  the  shield  in  the 
enormous  expense  to  which  the  host  was  necessarily  put  in 
providing  entertainment  worthy  of  a  visitor  of  such  high 
distinction,  so  that,  unless  he  were  possessed  of  princely 
resources,  the  depletion  of  his  coffers  effectually  prevented 
him  for  many  a  day  from  forgetting  the  visit  of  his  sovereign 
lord.  This  was  emphatically  so  in  Lord  Crichton's  case. 
The  family  was  one  that  had  held  its  ground  all  through  the 
vicissitudes  of  a  stormy  period  of  our  nation's  history,  during 
which  many  a  noble  house  had  suffered  dire  eclipse,  if  not 
total  extinction.  They  had  proved  themselves  men  of 
capacity,  and,  by  deeds  of  heroic  and  honourable  service  to 
the  state,  had  claimed  a  place  among  the  nobility  of  the  land, 
and  earned  the  gratitude  and  favours  of  sovereigns.  They 
had  obtained  the  marks  of  the  royal  confidence  in  having 
entrusted  to  them  responsible  office,  and,  having  achieved 
high  social  rank,  they  sued,  and  sued  not  in  vain,  for  the 
hand  in  marriage  of  ladies  of  noble  houses.  On  this  31st 
day  of  July,  1617,  the  sun  of  the  house  of  Crichton  may  be 
said  to  have  reached  its  zenith,  but  it  hasted  rapidly  to  its 
setting.  The  very  glory  of  the  house  led  to  its  extinction. 

History  of  Sanquhar.  85 

We  read  that  the  expense  of  the  royal  visit,  and  the  magna- 
nimous though  ostentatious  destruction  of  the  King's  bond, 
reduced  Lord  Sanquhar  to  such  a  condition  of  poverty  that 
he  was  compelled  some  dozen  years  after  to  sell  his  estates. 
"  Sic  transit  gloria  mundi." 

Shortly  after  this  time  Lord  Sanquhar  forsook  his  baronial 
residence  at  Sanquhar  Castle,  and  removed  into  Ayrshire,  to 
the  vicinity  of  Cunmock.  His  reason  for  so  doing  is  not,  so 
far  as  is  known,  recorded.  It  is  possible  that,  finding  his 
resources  seriously  crippled  by  the  entertainment  of  the  King, 
and  being  compelled  to  adopt  a  modest  style  of  living  and 
expenditure,  this  proud-spirited  lord  could  not  brook  that 
those  about  him  should  contrast  his  poverty-stricken  condi- 
tion with  the  former  greatness  of  his  estate,  and  moved  into 
a  new  locality  where  this  contrast  could  not  be  drawn.  la- 
the curtailment  of  his  power  of  outward  display,  however,  he 
was  not  without  consolation,  for  in  1622  he  was  created 
Viscount  of  Ayr,  and  in  1633  Earl  of  Dumfries  and  Lord 
Kumnock.  These  marks  of  his  sovereign's  favour  could  not 
but  be  exceedingly  gratifying,  affording  proof,  as  they  did, 
that  the  King  was  not  forgetful  of  his  ancient  and  honour- 
able lineage,  and  of  the  services  he  had  himself  rendered  to 
his  country.  Absence  seems,  however,  to  have  loosened  his 
attachment  to  his  patrimonial  estates,  or  sheer  necessity  to 
have  compelled  their  relinquishment.  At  all  events,  in 
1639,  he  sold  the  whole  barony  of  Sanquhar  to  the  Earl  of 
Queensberry.  (See  Appendix.)  Thus  terminated  the  con- 
nection of  the  Crichton  family  with  Sanquhar  and  Upper 
Nithsdale,  an  event  which,  even  now,  one  cannot  but  regret. 
It  can  easily  be  imagined  what  a  difference  it  would  have 
made  to  Sauquhar  had  the  Crichtons  remained  in  possession 
of  their  patrimonial  estate,  and  in  occupation  of  their  noble 

Though  the  Crichtons  from  this  time  had  no  connection 
with  Sanquhar,  it  seems  proper  to  trace  their  genealogy 
down  to  the  present  day.  In  succession  to  the  first  Earl  of 

86  History  of  Sanquhar. 

Dumfries,  William,  second  Earl,  his  son,  had  one  son,  Charles, 
who  died  before  him,  leaving  a  son,  William,  afterwards  third 
Earl,  and  four  daughters,  Penelope,  Margaret,  Mary,  and 
Elizabeth.  William,  second  Earl,  surrendered  all  his  honours, 
and  obtained  a  new  patent  for  them,  with  precedency  accord- 
ing to  the  former  patents,  and  with  limitation  to  each  of  the 
children  of  Charles,  Lord  Crichton,  and  the  heirs  of  their 
bodies  respectively,  failing  which,  to  the  nearest  heirs  what- 
soever of  the  said  Charles,  Lord  Crichton.  The  second  Earl 
died  in  1691,  and  William,  third  Earl,  died  unmarried  in 
1694,  when  he  was  succeeded  by  his  eldest  sister,  Penelope. 
She  married  the  Hon.  William  Dalrymple,  second  son  of 
John,  first  Earl  of  Stair,  by  whom  she  had  William,  fifth 
Earl,  and  also  Earl  of  Stair,  who  died  without  surviving 
issue  in  1763,  and  a  daughter,  Lady  Elizabeth,  who  married 
John  Macdowall,  Esq.,  and  had  issue — Patrick,  who  succeeded 
his  uncle  as  sixth  Earl,  and  assumed  the  name  of  Crichton  ; 
he  was  born  1726  and  died  in  1803,  having  married,  1771, 
Margaret,  daughter  of  ftonald  Crawford,  of  Restalrig,  Co. 
Edinburgh,  by  whom  he  had  only  one  surviving  child,  Lady 
Elizabeth-Penelope,  who  was  married  to  John,  Viscount 
Mountstuart,  eldest  son  of  John,  first  Marquis  of  Bute,  by 
whom  she  was  mother  of  John,  the  seventh  Earl  of  Dumfries, 
and  second  Marquis  of  Bute. 

The  present  Marquis  of  Bute  is  therefore  the  lineal 
descendant,  by  the  female  line,  of  the  ancient  Crichton 
family  of  Sanquhar,  whose  titles  are  the  oldest  held  by  the 
Marquis,  being — 1488,  Baron  Crichton  of  Sanquhar  ;  1622, 
Viscount  of  Ayr  ;  1633,  Earl  of  Dumfries  and  Baron 
Crichton  of  Cumnock. 

The  following  ancient  ballad  is  given  by  Simpson  in  his 
history,  but  whence  derived  he  does  not  say,  describing  one 
or  other  of  the  many  thieving  raids  committed  by  the  famous 

History  of  Sanquhar.  87 

Annandale  reivers,  and  setting  forth  in  an  interesting  manner 
the  summoning  of  the  clans  and  their  methods  of  warfare : — 

0  heard  ye  o'  that  dire  affray 

Befel  at  Crichton  Peel,  man  ; 
How  the  reeving  bands  o'  Annandale, 
Of  a'  the  border  thieves  the  wale, 

In  heaps  fell  on  the  field,  man  ? 

A  pale  light  flickered  in  the  copse, 

Beneath  the  castle  wa',  man  ; 
It  gleamed  a  moment  like  a  star, 
The  boding  wraith  o'  coming  war, 

And  glintit  through  the  ha',  man. 

The  foemen  in  the  wald  are  hid, 

They  came  at  dusk  o'  e'en,  man  ; 
And  far,  far  distant  is  our  lord, 
And  no  assistance  can  afford — 

He  hunts  round  dark  Lochskeen,  man. 

For  Megget's  lord  and  Bodsbeck's  chiefs 

Wi'  him  wha  ne'er  had  feud,  man, 
Longed  to  return  him  friendly  cheer, 
And  feast  upon  the  fallow  deer 

Within  their  castles  guid,  man. 

And  he  has  gane  wi'  horsemen  too, 

All  henchmen  true  and  brave,  man, 
And  few  are  left  within  the  hold, 
Of  clansmen  leal  and  warriors  bold, 

To  handle  lance  or  glaive,  man. 

The  warder  blaws  his  bugle  loud, 

It  sounds  far  o'er  the  wild,  man, 
Tell  Clenrie's  clan  and  Carco's  men 
Their  flocks  within  their  folds  to  pen, 

And  arm  and  tak'  the  field,  man. 

The  lady  in  the  Peel  sits  wae, 

Her  heart  shakes  like  the  leaf,  man, 
To  think  her  lord  is  far  away, 
With  hounds  he  keeps  the  stag  at  bay, 

But  brings  her  no  relief,  man. 

Rouse  up  the  men  o'  Yochan  fair, 

The  dwellers  on  the  Scar,  man, 
The  bravest  sons  o'  Mennick's  rills, 
Frae  a'  the  woods  the  songster  fills, 

The  bowmen  frae  the  Snar,  man. 

88  History  of  Sanquhar. 

Ye  doughty  sons  o'  Crawick's  sweet  vale, 

Frae  where  Powcraigy  roars,  man, 
In  a'  yer  glens  and  fairy  neuks, 
In  a'  yer  dells  and  winding  cruicks, 
Come  forth  in  warlike  corps,  man. 

Haste  wi'  the  news  to  Enoch's  lord, 
.  Shout  at  Drumlanrig's  tower,  man  ; 
Tell  a'  the  forts  in  "  auld  Disdeer," 
And  a'  the  holds  in  wooded  Keir, 
Their  stalwart  force  to  pour,  man. 

Bleeze  up  the  bales,  let  the  beacons  flare 

On  the  peak  o'  ilka  cairn,  man  ; 
Let  the  fiery  cross  the  tidings  flash, 
And  rouse  each  chieftain  from  his  marsh, 
Afar  through  wild  Carsphairn,  man. 

Let  all  the  clans  frae  Corsaiicone 
To  Kello's  bosky  stream,  man, 
All  from  Kirkconnel.s  sunny  braes, 
Wha  in  the  sweetest  woodland  strays, 
For  war  resign  the  team,  man. 

The  page,  like  arrow  from  the  bow, 

Out  by  the  postern  fled,  man, 
And  hasting  o'er  the  moorland  wastes, 
Charged  with  his  lady's  high  behests, 
To  noble  Douglas  sped,  man. 

He  chased  his  way  up  winding  Crawk, 

He  plunged  through  Spango's  stream,  man, 
And  crossed  Duneaton's  sable  flood, 
And  o'er  the  grassy  plain  did  scud, 
And  through  the  flowering  green,  man. 

At  Glespin's  peel  his  horn  he  blew, 
The  warder  heard  the  toot,  man, 
The  page's  welcome  voice  he  knew, 
The  iron  bolt  he  quickly  drew, 
And  echoed  back  the  shout,  man  ! 

Gae,  tell  Moss-castle's  swarthy  lord 

The  plight  of  Sanquhar's  dame,  man  ; 
For  I'm  in  haste  to  gude  Lord  James, 
Whose  aid  is  prompt  in  doleful  times — 
That  knight  of  fairest  fame,  man. 

History  of  Saiiqukar.  89 

Next  to  the  laird  of  Gilker's-cleuch, 

Let  it  not  be  unknown,  man, 
Rouse  every  hold  of  warriors  bold, 
In  every  fen  and  every  wold 

In  mossy  Crawfordjohn,  man. 

Syne  pass  the  haunted  auld  kirkyard, 

By  lone  Glengonar's  stream,  man, 
And  the  dreary  glen  where  the  wild  winds  rave, 
And  the  heath-screened  mouth  of  the  weird  man's  cave, 
And  the  wheeling  linn  where  the  kelpies  lave 

Their  limbs  by  the  pale  moonbeam,  man. 

The  nimble  page  his  way  now  sped, 

Through  rough  Glentaigart's  moors,  man, 

Where'many  a  bewildered  wight, 

Losing  his  way  on  misty  night, 

Or  lured  to  follow  will-wisp  light, 
Deep  in  the  moss- hag  lairs,  man. 

But  lair'd  not  thus  the  faithful  page, 

For  light  of  foot  was  he,  man  ; 
And  on  and  on  his  willing  road, 
With  ceaseless  feet,  the  heath  he  trode, 

As  mew  skims  o'er  the  sea,  man. 

Ho!  stop  thee,  page,  a  shepherd  cried, 

What  makes  thee  run-for  dread,  man  ? 
Hush  !  tell  your  master,  Carmacoup, 
Wha  ne'er  wi'  foe  refused  to  cope,    . 

To  haste  and  join  the  raid,  man. 

And  up  the  lea  of  Anershaw, 

And  past  the  dead  man's  grave,  man, 
And  eerie  trode  the  dread  black  gait 
Where  erst  lone  stranger  met  his  fate, 

And  left  Earnsalloch  cave,  man. 

And  now  the  towers  of  famed  St.  Bride 

Loomed  in  the  vale  beneath,  man, 
Where  dangled  traitor  high  in  air, 
As  shown  by  lightning's  vivid  glare, 
His  visage  marked  by  deep  despair — 

A  sight  full  grim  to  see,  man. 

And  now  he  sprang  the  bastion  o'er, 

As  fleet  as  roe  might  be,  man, 
The  owl  was  still,  the  hour  was  late, 
He  stood  before  the  castle  gate, 

And  raised  his  voice^on  high,  man. 


90  History  of  Sanquhar. 

0  !  haste  thee  for  our  lady  fair  ; 

Brave  Douglas,  'fend  the  right,  man, 
Rouse  up  your  warriors  feat  and  leal, 
March,  march  wi'  speed  to  Crichton  Peel, 

Wi'  jaque  and  mail  bedight,  man. 

The  noble  Douglas  heard  the  call, 

And  out  his  forces  drew,  man, 
And  all  in  glee  for  warlike  raid, 
In  armour  bright  full  well  arrayed, 

Through  moss  and  wold  they  flew,  man. 

Ere  dawn  of  day  old  Sanquhar  heard 

The  Douglas  slogan  shrill,  man, 
Which  soon  bade  every  fear  depart, 
And  quick  made  every  drooping  heart 
Wi'  martial  ardour  thrill,  man. 

The  clans  on  every  side  pour  in, 
Like  ravens  to  the  wood,  man, 
And  all  the  gallant  band  wi'  speed, 
In  the  dool  hour  of  Crichton's  need, 
The  reevers  fierce  withstood,  man. 

Of  all  the  brave  and  soothfast  friends, 
The  Douglas  gained  the  meed,  man  ; 
For  none  in  feats  with  him  might  share, 
Though  many  a  belted  knight  was  there, 
And  wight  of  noble  deed,  man. 

For  he,  where  pressed  the  thickest  foes, 

The  fiercest  onslaught  made,  man, 
And  ne'er  retired  one  foot-breadth  back, 
But  forward  urged  with  eager  shock, 
And  on  the  sward  them  laid,  man. 

Most  valiant  was  that  hero's  heart, 

When  plunged  in  densest  throng,  man, 
And  keen  his  glaive  and  from  his  arm 
The  which  with  lusty  blows  did  harm 
On  all  who  sought  his  wrong,  man. 

But  generous  was  that  chieftain  brave, 

When  victory  to  him  fell,  man  ; 
He  ne'er  was  known  his  conquered  foe 
To  triumph  o'er  when  once  laid  low, 
Or  him  in  wrath  revile,  man, 

Histoi'y  of  Saiujuhar.  91 

The  clansmen  all  their  valour  proved, 

On  that  eventful  morn,  man, 
And  many  deeds  of  high  renown, 
The  whilk  were  worthy  to  hand  down 

From  sire  to  child  unborn)  man. 

But  Enoch's  lord  and  Carco's  chief, 

'Mang  foremost  there  were  seen,  man, 
And,  urging  on  against  the  foe, 
Dealt  many  a  vengeful,  deadly  blow, 
And  trode  the  slain  their  feet  below, 

Upon  that  blood-stained  green,  man. 

The  valiant  knight  of  Morton's  Tower, 

A  courtly  dress  he  wore,  man, 
With  golden  belt,  his  monarch's  gift, 
All  glittering  round  his  princely  waist — 
But  reivers'  hands  with  greedy  haste 

The  gorgeous  cincture  tore,  man. 

But  fell  reprisals  soon  were  ta'en, 

When  the  baron's  wrath  arose,  man, 
For  wildly  on  the  foe  he  pressed, 
And  yarely  he  the  wrong  redressed, 

And  man  on  man  o'erthrows,  man. 

The  reivers  bold  in  their  assault 

Most  desperate  deeds  performed  man, 
And  fought  like  lions  in  the  fray, 
For  well  they  knew  a  luckless  day 
Would  send  but  few  of  them  away 

From  that  proud  peel  they  stormed,  man. 

The  warder  from  the  castle  high, 

Wha  eager  watched  the  strife,  man, 
Saw  in  the  distance  horsemen  ride  ; 
Fight  on  !  our  valiant  friends,  he  cried, 
Fresh  succours  now  I  have  espied, 
Brave  Thristane's  aid  is  ne'er  denied — 

He  kens  the  thieves  frae  Dryfe,  man. 

'Twas  Crichton's  lord  who  on,  with  speed, 

With  his  brave  henchmen  came,  man, 
In  time,  before  the  clans  dispart, 
To  thank  each  warrior  from  the  heart, 

Of  gude  and  trusty  name,  man. 

92  History  of  Sanquhar. 

And  now  the  wassail  in  the  hall, 

And  revelry  began,  man  ; 
The  minstrel  tuned  his  harp  wi'  skill, 
The  loud  notes  soon  the  hold  did  fill, 
While  he  their  warlike  deeds  did  tell, 

And  praised  each  valorous  clan,  man. 

The  reivers  fierce  frae  Annandale 

Were  worsted  in  the  fray,  man, 
And  few  returned  to  that  sweet  vale, 
To  tell  their  friends  the  waeful  tale, 
Who  deeply  did  their  fate  bewail, 
And  never  sought  they  to  assail 
Old  Crichton  Peel  for  their  avail 

E'en  from  that  dismal  day,  man. 

In  concluding  the  chapter  on  the  Crichtons,  notice  may  be 
taken  'of  a  curious  and  interesting  relic,  the  handiwork  of 
one  of  the  ladies  of  the  Castle,  Lady  Isabel  Penelope 
Crichton.  The  relic  consists  of  an  ancient  specimen  of  what 
is  called  a  Sampler,  or  specimen  of  needlework,  not  differing 
greatly  in  style  from  those  still  worked  by  school  girls  in 
country  parts,  which  may  frequently  be  seen  framed  and 
hung  up  in  their  homes.  It  bears  date  1501,  and  is  quite 
fresh  after  the  lapse  of  390  years.  It  is  sewn  on  linen 
canvas,  the  colours  employed  being  crimson,  purple,  brown, 
green,  pink,  and  straw.  It  contains  all  the  letters  of  the 
alphabet,  the  nine  digits,  and  some  ornamental  figures.  It 
bears  on  the  one  side  the  pious  rnotto — "  Giv  God  the  first 
and  last  of  the  des  thoght  ;"  and  on  the  reverse  side  the 
following  verse  of  Scripture  :  "  Mathov  vii.  10 — WhatsoiAer 
I  would  that  men  should  do  to  yov,  do  I  eAen  so  to  them  ; 
for  this  is  the  la  and  the  profets,"  together  with  the  initials 
"  I.P."  on  its  face.  The  figure  5  in  the  date  is  not  well 
formed,  through  the  stitching  being  carried  a  trifle  too  high 
at  the  one  end,  but  it  corresponds  in  its  main  outlines  with 
the  form  of  the  figure  given  in  printed  lists  of  pattern  letters 
and  figures  for  the  guidance  of  the  workers  of  samplers.  If 
it  is  not  a  good  5,  it  certainly  bears  no  resemblance  to  a  6  or 
a  7,  and  that  it  could  be  an  8  is  impossible,  for  its  existence 

History  of  Sanquhar.  93 

prior  to  1801  is  certain.  "  The  first  English  translation  of 
the  Bible  known  is  supposed  to  bear  the  date  1290  ;  the 
next  was  by  Wyckliffe,  about  1380.  These  were  in  manu- 
script, and  consequently  the  price  was  enormous.  In  the 
year  1429,  a  copy  of  Wyckliffe's  New  Testament  cost  about 
£40.  It  was  probably  a  manuscript  copy  of  this  translation 
from  which  Lady  Isabel  Crichton  copied  into  her  sampler 
the  verse  from  '  Mathov.'  It.  was  the  tenth  verse  in 
Wyckliffe's  copy,  and  the  twelfth  in  ours.  The  peculiarity 
lies  in  the  ancient  spelling,  and  in  using  the  '  v '  in  the 
inverted  form."  Till  the  year  1886,  the  sampler  was  put 
together  in  the  form  of  a  bag,  the  mouth  of  which  was  drawn 
by  a  silk  string.  It  is  in  the  possession  of  Miss  Bramwell  of 
St.  Helen's,  Sanquhar,  having  come  into  the  hands  of  her 
grandfather,  Mr  John  Bramwel],  in  a  rather  peculiar  way. 
Mr  Bramwell  was  manager  of  the  lead-mines  of  Waulock- 
head  for  the  Marquis  of  Bute,  who  had  them  under  lease 
from  the  Duke  of  Buccleuch,  and  the  gold  from  Dumfries 
House,  for  the  payment  of  the  miners'  wages,  was,  on  one 
occasion,  sent  to  him  in  this  bag.  Its  present  possessor, 
finding  the  work  giving  way  under  the  handling  of  the 
curious,  unpicked  the  side  seams,  fastened  it  down  on  a  fresh 
foundation,  and  had  it  framed  under  glass.  An  open  space 
is  left  at  the  back  to  show  the  piece  of  red  silk  riband 
inside  of  the  bag,  on  which  is  worked  "  Isabel  Pen.  s- Y-" 
corresponding  to  the  initials  "  I.P."  on  the  face  of  the 
sampler.  The  small  letters  "  S.Y."  have  been  supposed  to 
be  the  initial  letters  of  Sanquhar  and  Yochan.  That  the 
"  S  "  signifies  Sanquhar  is  probable  enough,  but  we  know  of 
no  good  reason  for  connecting  the  "  Y  "  with  Yochan.  The 
lands  there  were  never  spoken  of  as  a  separate  or  distinct 
portion  of  the  barony  of  Sanquhar,  nor  were  the  Crichton 
family  identified  with  it  any  more  than  with  other  parts  of 
the  lands  which  they  held.  The  sampler  has  been  in  the 
possession  of  Miss  Bramwell's  family  for  a  hundred  years. 
Miss  Bramwell  is  likewise  possessed  of  a  silk  handkerchief, 

94  History  of  Sanqukar. 

the  story  of  which  is  given  by  Dr  Simpson  in  the  following 
form.  It  relates  to  the  period  when  the  Castle  was  owned 
by  the  Queensberry  family,  that  is,  subsequent  to  1630. 
"  One  of  the  young  ladies  was,  it  is  said,  of  a  rather  delicate 
constitution,  and  her  medical  advisers  prescribed  the  use  of 
the  milk  of  a  jet-black  cow,  as  having  in  it  more  than 
ordinary  virtue.  Accordingly,  it  was  found  that  a  man  of 
the  name  of  Dripps,  who  lived  at  the  Townhead  of  Sanquhar, 
possessed  a  cow  of  this  description,  and  immediate  application 
was  made  to  him  for  the  necessary  supply  of  the  medicinal 
article.  A  little  daughter  of  his  was  sent  one  morning  to 
the  Castle  with  the  milk  for  the  lady.  She  came  arrayed  in 
a  little  scarlet  cloak,  the  bright  colour  of  which  attracted  the 
attention  of  a  flock  of  geese  and  turkeys  that  were  strolling 
on  the  green  before  the  Castle,  exactly  on  her  way  to  the 
gate.  On  her  near  approach  the  congregated  fowls  set  up  a 
loud  screaming,  spread  abroad  their  wings,  and  opening  wide 
their  bills,  assailed  the  poor  girl,  who  was  nearly  frightened 
out  of  her  wits,  and  would  have  died  through  sheer  terror 
had  not  one  of  the  ladies  observed  the  circumstance  from 
her  window,  and  hastened  to  her  rescue.  The  poor  thing 
was  so  agitated  that  the  lady  had  enough  ado  to  soothe  her, 
and  to  bring  her  to  her  wonted  calmness.  The  lady  then 
presented  her  with  a  fine  silk  handkerchief,  a  rare  thing  in 
those  days."  It  is  this  identical  article  which  is  in  Miss 
Brarnwell's  possession. 

A  gruesome  story  is  further  told  by  Simpson  of  an  accident 
that  occurred  to  one  of  the  ladies  of  the  Castle.  "  In  these 
early  times  it  was  probably  more  customary  than  now  for 
females  of  the  higher  families  to  occupy  themselves  in  domestic 
matters,  and  the  ladies  in  the  Castle  were  taught  to  assist  in 
the  laundry.  It  happened  that  one  day  one  of  the  ladies 
was  busy  dressing  her  muslins,  and  for  this  purpose  was 
using  a  '  box-iron.'  In  those  days  the  females  wore  what 
were  termed  '  barrel-breasted  '  stays,  which  implies  that  they 
were  open  at  the  top.  When  the  young  lady  had  inserted 

History  of  Sanquhar.  95 

the  heater  in  the  box  she  forgot  to  fix  it,  and  holding  it  near 
her  face  to  feel  if  it  was  not  too  hot  for  her  purpose,  the  glow- 
ing iron  fell  plump  into  her  bosom,  between  the  stays  and 
her  breast.  Her  agony  was  dreadful.  Nothing  could  save 
her,  and  in  a  brief  space  she  expired." 

The  Barony  and  Castle  of  Sanquhar  were  sold  by  Lord 
Crichton  to  Sir  William  Douglas,  Viscount  of  Drumlanrig, 
who  was  created  Earl  of  Queensberry  in  1639.  This  noble 
resided  in  Sanquhar  Castle  during  the  building  of  Drum- 
lanrig. On  its  completion,  he  removed  to  his  new  and 
splendid  seat,  but  it  is  said  he  only  stayed  one  night  there. 
He  became  unwell  overnight,  but  the  house  being  very  large, 
and  the  internal  arrangements  apparently  not  well  considered, 
he  was  unable  to  call  his  servants,  and  returned,  disgusted,  to 
the  Peel  at  Sanquhar  for  the  rest  of  his  days.  He  was,  like- 
wise, so  ashamed  of  the  heavy  accounts  connected  with  the 
erection  of  the  Castle  of  Drumlanrig,  and  was  so  anxious 
that  his  folly  in  incurring  such  enormous  expense  should 
pass  into  oblivion,  that  he  made  a  bundle  of  the  same,  upon 
which  he  wrote  on  the  outside  the  words — "  The  deil  pyke 
oot  his  een  that  looks  herein." 

In  the  Douglas  vault  in  the  Church  of  Durisdeer  there  is 
a  coffin  with  the  inscription,  "  Lord  George  Douglas."  He 
was  third  son  to  William,  first  Duke,  and  died  unmarried  at 
Sanquhar  in  July,  1693.  Also,  a  lead  coffin  with  inscription, 
"  James  Douglas,  Duke  of  Queensberry  and  Dover."  He 
was  born  at  Sanquhar  Castle,  18th  December,  1662,  and  was 
educated  at  Glasgow  University.  This  is  the  Union  Duke, 
so  called  because  he  was  mainly  instrumental  in  bringing 
about  the  union  of  the  English  and  Scottish  Parliaments  in 
1707,  for  which  he  suffered  much  obloquy.  He  died  in  1711. 

CHAPTER      V. 

THE    E  L  L  i  o  c  K     FAMILY. 

!)INOR    branches   of   the   Crichton    family   owned 
several  properties  in  the  district.     Chief  among 
these  was  the  Elliock  family,  of  whom   sprang 
the  first  Lord  Elliock  and  his  renowned  son,  The 
Admirable  Crichton. 
Of  Robert  Crichton  of  Elliock,  Lord  Advocate,  we  have 
the   following  notice    in    Brunton's  "  Historical  Account  of 
the  Senators  of  the  College  of  Justice  ": — 

"1581,  February  1. — Robert  Crichton  of  Elliock,  Lord 
Advocate,  supposed  to  have  been  son  of  another  Robert 
Crichton,  and  father  of  the  Admirable  Crichton.  He  was 
appointed  Lord  Advocate,  jointly  with  John  Spens  of  Condie, 
on  the  8th  of  February,  1560.  He  appears  to  have  been 
favourable  to  the  Queen's  cause  in  the  beginning  of  her 
son's  reign,  and  was  sent  for  by  that  princess  into  England 
after  the  death  of  the  Regent  Murray.  Lennox,  however, 
prevented  this,  having  made  Elliock  find  caution  to  the 
extent  of  £4000  Scots  that  he  should  not  leave  the  city  of 
Edinburgh.  This  feeling  was  probably  the  reason  why,  on 
the  death  of  Spens  in  1573,  he  was  not  appointed  to  his 
place  on  the  bench,  which  was  given  to  David  Borthwick  of 
Lochhill,  who  was  at  the  same  time  appointed  joint  Advocate. 
On  the  6th  January,  1580,  he  obtained  a  letter  from  the 
King,  declaring  it  to  be  the  royal  pleasure  that  he  should, 
upon  Borthwick 's  decease,  succeed  to  his  place  in  the  Session, 
and  continue  sole  Advocate  ;  and  he  procured  a  similar  letter 

History  of  Sanquhar.  97 

on  the  7th  December  preceding,  requiring  them  to  admit 
him  during  Borthwick's  sickness,  but  it  does  not  appear  that 
he  took  his  seat  until  the  1st  of  February,  1581,  after  the 
decease  of  his  colleague.  He  was,  in  1581,  appointed  one  of 
the  Parliamentary  Commissioners  for  Reformation  of  Hospi- 
tals. He  died  between  the  18th  June,  1582,  when  he  made 
his  testament,  and  the  27th  of  that  month." 

He  was  probably  a  brother  of  Lord  Sanquhar.  He  was 
married  three  times.  His  first  wife  was  Elizabeth  Stewart, 
a  descendant  of  Robert,  Duke  of  Albany,  son  of  Robert  II. 
King  of  Scotland,  by  whom  he  had  two  sons,  James  (the 
Admirable  Crichtou)  and  Robert.  James  died  in  the  same 
year  as  his  father,  1582,  and  probably  it  was  his  brother 
Robert  who  sold  the  estate  to  Dalyell  (afterwards  Earl  of 

The  Admirable  Crichton  was,  in  some  respects,  the  most 
distinguished  of  the  whole  family,  shedding,  by  the  splendour 
of  his  talents  and  accomplishments,  a  lustre  upon  the  name 
which  he  bore.  Were  it  not  that  the  extraordinary  powers 
of  this  intellectual  prodigy  are  fairly  well  authenticated,  we 
might  be  disposed  to  reject  the  story  of  his  brief  and  brilliant 
career  as  a  gross  exaggeration.  It  reads  more  like  a  tale  of 
romance  than  the  sober  truth.  The  title  which  he  earned 
was  bestowed  upon  him  by  his  contemporaries  on  account  of 
the  great  brilliancy  of  his  mental  gifts  arid  the  versatility  of 
his  other  accomplishments.  He  flashed  like  a  splendid 
meteor  across  the  literary  firmament  of  Europe.  The  follow- 
ing account  of  his  career  is  given  by  Chambers  : — "  He  was 
educated  at  St.  Andrews  University.  Before  he  reached 
his  20th  year,  he  had,  it  seems,  run  through  the  whole  circle 
of  the  sciences,  mastered  ten  different  languages,  and  per- 
fected himself  in  every  knightly  accomplishment.  Thus 
panoplied  in  a  suit  of  intellectual  armour,  Crichton  rode  out 
into  the  world  of  letters,  and  challenged  all  and  sundry  to  a 
learned  encounter.  If  we  can  believe  his  biographers,  the 
stripling  left  every  adversary  who  entered  the  lists  against 


98  History  of  Sanquhar. 

him  hors-de-combat.  At  Paris,  Rome,  Venice,  Padua, 
Mantua,  he  achieved  the  most  extraordinary  victories  in 
disputation  on  all  branches  of  human  knowledge,  and  excited 
universal  admiration  and  applause.  The  beauty  of  his 
person  and  elegance  of  his  manners  also  made  him  a  great 
favourite  with  the  fair ;  while,  as  if  to  leave  no  excellence 
unattained,  he  vanquished  in  a  duel  the  most  famous 
gladiator  in  Europe.  The  Duke  of  Mantua,  in  whose  city 
this  perilous  feat  was  performed,  appointed  him  preceptor  to 
his  son,  Vincentio  de  Gonzago,  a  dissolute  and  profligate 
youth.  One  night  during  the  carnival,  Crichton  was  attacked 
in  the  streets  of  Mantua  by  half-a-dozen  people  in  masks. 
He  pushed  them  so  hard  that  their  leader  pulled  off  his 
mask  and  disclosed  the  features  of  the  prince.  With  an 
excess  of  loyalty,  which  proved  his  death,  Crichton  threw 
himself  upon  his  knees,  and  begged  Vincentio's  pardon,  at 
the  same  time  presenting  him  with  his  sword.  The  heartless 
wretch  plunged  it  into  the  body  of  his  tutor.  Thus  perished 
in  the  22nd  year  of  his  age  '  The  Admirable  Crichton.' " 
His  birthplace  has  been  disputed,  owing  to  the  fact  that  his 
father  was  also  owner  of  the  estate  of  Clunie,  in  Perthshire, 
where,  one  account  has  it,  he  was  born.  It  is,  however, 
affirmed  that  he  was  born  at  Elliock,  and  the  chamber  is  still 
shewn  where  he  first  saw  the  light.  That  Elliock  House  is 
really  entitled  to  the  honour  is  proved  by  the  fact  that  the 
purchase  of  Clunie  by  his  father  did  not  take  place  till  two 
years  after  his  birth. 

The  estate  of  Elliock  was  sold  to  the  Dalyells  in  1592,  and 
continued  in  the  hands  of  that  family  down  to  the  year  1725. 
These  Dalyells  were  typical  specimens  of  Scottish  barons, 
fierce,  turbulent,  and  lawless.  Sir  Robert  lived  on  bad  terms 
with  Lord  Sanquhar,  his  next  neighbour.  In  the  chapter  on 
the  Crichtons  will  be  found  an  account  of  his  appearance 
with  his  son  to  answer  along  with  Lord  Creichtoun  to  a 
charge  of  threatening.  The  Dalyells,  father  and  sons,  indeed, 
appear  to  have  been  a  terror  to  the  neighbourhood,  Thus, 

History  of  Sanquhar.  99 

in  1598,  Dalyell  himself  is  bound  over  on  a  surety  of  £1000, 
and  his  two  sons,  Robert  and  Gawin,  in  sureties  of  1000 
merks  and  300  merks  respectively  "  not  to  harm  Mr  Robert 
Hunter,  minister  at  Sanquhar."  Further,  in  the  year  1602, 
it  is  charged  against  another  son,  Archibald,  that  he  "having 
lately  with  his  accomplices  come  at  night  to  the  pail  of  the 
lands  of  Sauchtounhall,  belonging  to  Johnnie  Morrisoun,  and 
reft  from  him  certain  kye  and  oxen,  and  having  come  since 
then  to  the  dwelling-house  of  Nicoll  Dalyell,  his  father-in-law, 
and  most  cruelly  assaulted  him,  so  that  he  is  yet  '  lyand 
bedfast '  in  great  hazard  of  his  life,  charge  had  been  given  to 
his  said  father,  and  to  Robert  Dalyell,  younger  of  that  Ilk,  his 
brother,  by  whom  he  is  at  all  times  resetted  to  enter  him 
conform  to  the  general  bond.  And,  now,  the  said  Robert, 
elder,  appearing  for  himself  and  for  the  said  Robert,  younger, 
and  producing  a  testimonial  subscribed  by  the  baillies  of  the 
town  of  Sanquhar  and  elders  thereof,  certifying  that  the  said 
Robert,  younger,  is  '  heavelie  diseasit  with  sickness,  and 
unable  to  travell,'  the  Lords  excuse  the  absence  of  the  said 
Robert,  younger,  but  as  the  said  Archibald  has  not  been 
entered  by  the  said  Robert,  elder,  his  father,  ordain  said 
Robert,  elder,  to  enter  in  ward  in  the  Castle  of  Edinburgh." 

The  minister  of  Sanquhar,  Mr  Robert  Hunter,  above 
referred  to,  seems  to  have  had  a  hard  time  of  it  at  the  hands 
of  these  masterful  lords  and  barons.  He  received  a  rough 
and  unceremonious  handling  in  another  part  of  the  county, 
which  is  thus  described  in  a  complaint  to  the  Council  in 
1609,  at  the  instance  of  Sir  Thomas  Harnmiltoun,  for  the 
King's  interest,  and  by  Mr  Robert  Hunter,  minister  at 
Sanquhar,  as  follows  : — 

"On  Sunday,  3rd  instant,  Mr  Robert  having,  at  the  command  Arch- 
bishop of  Glasgow,  repaired  to  the  Kirk  of  Kirkpatrick-Fleming,  in 
Annanderdaill,  to  the  ministers  to  the  parishioners  thereof  according  as  it 
sould  have  pleasit  God  at  his  inercie  to  have  niovit  him.  As  soon  as  he 
had  enterit  the  Kirkyard  of  the  said  Kirk,  George  Irvine  of  Woodhous, 
violent  possessor  of  the  teinds  of  the  said  Kirk,  fearing  to  be  removed  from 
further  melling  with  the  said  teinds,  came  armed  with  certain  weapons, 

100  History  of  Sanquhar. 

and  straitly  forbade  complainer  to  '  teitch '  the  said  day,  or  sould  let  him 
see  a  sicht  that  sould  gar  a  cold  sweitgo  over  his  hairt.  Accordinglie  in 
the  verie  tyme  of  the  sermon,  defender  gathered  the  under-named  persons 
in  some  demit  spots  close  to  the  Kirk,  and  as  soon  as  Mr  Robert  came  out 
of  the  Kirk,  Irvine  again  accosted  him,  saying  he  had  done  him  wrong 
afoir  in  slaying  of  Johne  of  Lockerbie,  and  now  he  was  come  to  reve  him 
of  his  teyndis,  bot  he  sould  at  this  tyme  pay  for  all.  Then  he  gave  a  shout, 
and  he  and  said  persons  convocated  with  others  to  the  number  of  100,  all 
armed  with  certain  weapons,  including  hagbuts  and  pistolets,  chased  him 
and  them  a  mile  from  the  Kirk,  wounding  some." 

For  this  outrageous  conduct  Irving  was  committed  to  the 
ward  in  the  Tolbooth  of  Edinburgh,  and  other  two,  who  did 
not  appear,  were  denounced  rebels. 

Conduct  of  this  sort  was,  however,  not  unusual  in  these 
times,  nor  was  it  any  permanent  bar  to  the  favour  of  the 
sovereign,  and  so  we  find  that  Dalyell  was,  in  1628,  created 
Baron  Dalyell,  and,  in  1639,  Earl  of  Camwath.  The  family 
had  a  town  house  in  Sanquhar,  which  was  called  Lord 
Carnwath's  house,  the  site  of  which  is  now  covered  by  the 
property  owned  and  occupied  by  the  author  of  this  history. 

In  Symson's  "  Description  of  Galloway,"  published  in  1684, 
it  is  said  that  "  the  Duke  of  Queensberry  is  superior  to  the 
lands  of  Elliock.  It  belongs  to  the  Earl  of  Camwath  in 
property,  having  the  mansion-house  Elliock  situate  in  the 
bounds  of  it,  a  goodly  fabrick  formerly  the  dwelling  place  of 
the  Baron  of  Dalyell,  of  which  the  Earles  of  Camwath  are 
descended.  This  part  of  the  parish  is  exceedingly  well 
stored  with  wood,  but  now  of  late,  by  the  cutting  down  of  a 
great  part  of  it,  for  the  lead  mines  of  Hopetouu  in  Clidesdale, 
and  not  parking  of  it  afterwards,  it  is  much  decayed,  and 
probably  will  decay  more  if,  after  the  cutting  of  it,  it  be  not 
more  carefully  enclosed  for  the  futtire." 

The  estate  was  purchased  from  Lord  Camwath  by  William 
Veitch  in  1725.  He  was  of  the  family  of  that  name  which 
had  flourished  in  Peeblesshire  from  a  very  early  period.  In 
Chambers'  "  History  of  Peebles "  we  have  the  following 
account  of  the  family  origin  : — "  The  mythic  legend  of  the 

History  of  Sanquhar.  101 

Veitches  explanatory  of  their  name  must  not  be  omitted. 
The  original  of  our  name,  says  Robert  Veitch  of  Campflat, 
was  Gailard,  a  native  of  France,  who  came  over  to  Scotland 
in  the  reign  of  Robert  Bruce.  He  became  a  favourite  of 
that  king  from  being  an  alert  hunter.  Happening  to  dis- 
tinguish himself  at  a  time  when  Robert  was  pent  up  in  an 
encampment  near  Warkworth  Castle,  and  his  army  in  great 
want  of  provisions,  Gailard  bravely  ventured  his  life  by 
driving  a  herd  of  cattle  in  the  night,  by  which  means 
Robert's  men  so  much  revived  that  they  made  so  vigorous  a 
sally  as  next  day  secured  them  a  safe  retreat.  Robert  soon 
after  coming  to  Peebles,  where  he  had  a  hunting  seat  (the 
vestiges  of  which  are  now  to  be  seen  adjoining  the  Church 
of  Peebles),  it  was  then  he  thought  proper  to  reward  Gailard 
for  his  bravery  by  giving  him  the  lands  of  Dawick  upon  the 
Tweed,  and  for  his  coat-of-arms  three  cows'  heads,  with  the 
motto,  '  Famum  Extendimus  Factis '  (we  extend  our  fame 
by  our  deeds).  At  the  same  time  he  took  the  surname  of 
Vache  (French  for  a  cow)  by  reason  of  its  corresponding  with 
the  crest.  It  came  to  be  different  spelled  afterwards  through 
ignorance." — Papers  of  Veitch  of  Campflats. 

"  The  originator  of  this  story,"  Chambers  remarks,  "  does 
not  appear  to  have  been  aware  that  William  La  Vache,  of 
the  County  of  Peebles,  figures  in  the  Ragman  Roll  consider- 
ably before  the  date  of  the  alleged  exploit  of  Warkworth." — 
Chambers'  Hist.  Peebles. 

In  all  probability,  the  first  Veitch  was  one  of  the  Normans 
who  found  their  way  into  the  southern  part  of  Scotland  in 
the  reign  of  David.  The  headquarters  of  the  family  were  at 
Dauwic  (Dawyck),  and  we  read  that  "  at  a  later  period,  at 
the  Union  of  the  Crowns,  they,  as  was  the  custom  with 
barons  whose  estates  lay  near  a  town,  had  a  town  residence 
in  Peebles,  known  latterly  as  "  The  Pillars,"  and  situated  on 
the  north  east  of  the  site  of  the  town  cross." — Veitch's  Hist, 
and  Poetry  of  the  Border. 

The  Veitches  were  strong  of  arm  and  stout  of  heart,  as  it 

1 02  History  of  Sanquhar. 

behoved  all  to  be  who  had  possessions  on  the  border  in  those 
stirring  days.  Of  one  of  them,  Bishop  Lesly  relates  the 
following  tradition  : — •"  Veitch  of  Dawyk,  a  man  of  great 
strength  and  bravery,  who  flourished  in  the  16th  century,  is 
said  to  have  been  on  bad  terms  with  a  neighbouring  pro- 
prietor, Tweedie  of  Drummelzier.  By  some  accident,  a  flock 
of  Dawyk's  sheep  strayed  over  into  Drummelzier's  grounds,  at 
the  time  when  Dickie  of  the  Den,  a  Liddesdale  outlaw,  was 
making  his  rounds  in  Tweeddale.  Seeing  this  flock  he  drove 
them  off  without  ceremony.  Next  morning  Veitch,  perceiv- 
ing his  loss,  summoned  his  servants  and  retainers,  laid  a 
bloodhound  on  the  traces  of  the  robber,  by  whom  they  were 
guided  for  many  miles,  till,  on  the  banks  of  Liddel,  the  dog 
staid  upon  a  very  large  hay-stack.  The  pursuers  were  a 
good  deal  surprised  at  the  obstinate  pause  of  the  bloodhound, 
till  Dawyk  pulled  down  some  of  the  hay,  and  discovered  a 
large  excavation,  containing  the  robbers  and  their  spoil.  He 
instantly  flew  upon  Dickie,  and  was  about  to  poniard  him, 
when  the  marauder,  with  the  address  noticed  by  Lesley,  pro- 
tested that  he  would  never  have  touched  a  cloot  (hoof)  of 
them  had  he  not  taken  them  for  Drummelzier's  property. 
This  dexterous  appeal  to  Veitch's  passion  saved  the  life  of 
the  freebooter." 

Professor  Veitch,  in  his  "  History  and  Poetory  of  the  Scot- 
tish Border,"  records  that — "  This  deadly  feud  between  the 
Veitch es  and  the  Tweedies  had  been  kept  up  for  generations, 
for  one  of  the  last  acts  of  James  VI.,  before  he  left  for 
England,  was  to  visit  the  district  of  Upper  Tweeddale,  with  a 
view  to  staunch  the  bloody  feud  between  the  two  lairds  of 
Dawyck  and  Drummelzier,  and  imagined  that  he  had 
succeeded,  but  no.  At  his  Court  at  Greenwich,  in  1611,  he 
was  disturbed  by  rumours  of  continued  broils  between  these 
two  families.  He  was  old  enough  to  remember  people  speak 
of  the  shuddering  sensation  which  the  news  of  a  fatal  hand- 
to-hand  encounter  between  Dawyck  and  Drummelzier  had 
created  at  the  Scottish  Court  even  in  those  times  of  atrocious 

History  of  Sdiiquhar.  103 

deeds.  On  a  morning  in  early  summer  the  two  lairds  had 
met  by  chance  on  the  haugh  of  the  Tweed.  They  were  alone 
when  they  confronted  each  other.  The  memories  of  cen- 
turies of  mutual  violence  and  mutual  deeds  of  blood  were 
quickened  in  their  hearts,  and  that  strange,  savage  feeling 
of  blood-atonement  seemed  to  thrill  in  both.  They  agreed 
to  settle  the  strife  of  centuries  then  and  there.  And  tradi- 
tion tells  us  that,  as  the  birds  waked  the  June  morn,  Drum- 
melzier  was  found  dead  beside  a  bush,  and  the  blood  had 
stained  the  white  blossoms  of  the  hawthorn  spray.  Still  the 
feud  was  carried  on,  and  the  King,  in  March  ]611,  in  a 
proclamation,  calls  upon  Lord  Dunfermline  and  the  other 
lords  of  the  Privy  Council  to  take  steps  to  suppress  this 
strife."  This,  then,  would  appear  to  have  been  one  of 
the  veiy  last  of  those  family  quarrels,  by  which,  for  genera- 
tions, the  whole  of  the  Scottish  Border  had  been  kept  in  a 
state  of  perpetual  disturbance  and  bloodshed.  It  is  of  this 
doughty  race  that  the  Veitches  of  Elliock  are  descended,  of 
whom,  as  we  shall  see,  some  were  distinguished  in  the  arts 
of  peace,  as  their  forbears  had  been  in  the  art  of  war. 

It  would  be  erroneous  to  suppose  that  the  William  Veitch, 
who  purchased  from  Lord  Carnwath,  was  the  first  Veitch  to 
figure  in  the  history  of  Sanquhar,  for  in  the  ballad,  "  The 
Gallant  Grahams"  (Sir  Walter  Scott's  Border  Minstrelsy), 
one  of  the  family  is  thus  described — 

"  And  gallant  Veitch  upon  the  field, 
A  braver  face  was  never  seen. " 

This  gallant  Veitch,  Sir  Walter  takes  to  be  David,  brother 
to  Veitch  of  Dawyk,  who,  with  many  others  of  the  Peebles- 
shire  gentry,  was  taken  at  Philiphaugh.  The  following 
curious  incident  took  place  some  years  afterwards  on  the 
high  street  of  Sanquhar,  in  consequence  of  his  loyal  zeal. 
It  is  related  in  Symson's  "  Description  of  Galloway"  (1684)  : 
— "  In  the  year  1653,  when  the  loyal  party  did  arise  in  arms 
against  the  English  in  the  West  and  North  Highlands,  some 
noblemen  and  loyall  gentlemen,  with  others,  came  forward  to 

104  History  of  Sanquhar. 

repair  to  them  with  such  parties  as  they  could  make,  which 
the  English,  with  marvellous  diligence  night  and  day,  did 
bestir  themselves  to  impede  by  making  their  troups  of  horse 
and  dragoons  to  pursue  the  loyal  party  in  all  places,  that 
they  might  not  come  to  such  a  considerable  number  as  was 
designed.  It  happened  one  night  that  one  Captain  Mason, 
commander  of  a  troup  of  dragoons  that  came  from  Carlisle  in 
England,  marching  through  the  town  of  Sanquhar  in  the 
night,  was  in  the  town  of  Sanquhar  encountered  by  one 
Captain  Palmer,  commander  of  a  troup  of  horse  that  came 
from  Air,  marching  eastward  and  meeting  at  the  townhouse 
or  tolbooth,  one  David  Veitch,  brother  of  the  Laird  of  Dawick 
in  Tweddale,  and  one  of  the  loyall  party,  being  prisoner  in 
irons  by  the  English,  did  arise  and  came  to  the  window  at 
their  meeting,  and  cryed  out  that  they  should  fight  valiantly 
for  K.  Charles,  wherethrough  they,  taking  each  other  for  the 
loyall  party,  did  begin  a  brisk  fight,  which  continued  for  a 
while,  till  the  dragoons  having  spent  their  shot,  and  finding 
the  horsemen  to  be  too  strong  for  them,  did  give  ground, 
but  yet  retired  in  some  order  toward  the  Castle  of  Sanquhar, 
being  hotly  pursued  by  the  troup  through  the  whole  town, 
above  a  quarter  of  a  mile,  till  they  came  to  the  castle, 
where  both  parties  did,  to  their  mutual  grief,  become  sensible 
of  their  mistake.  In  this  skirmish  there  were  several  killed 
on  both  sides,  and  Captain  Palmer  himself  dangerously 
wounded,  with  many  more  wounded  in  each  troup,  who  did 
peaceably  dwell  together  afterwards  for  a  time,  until  their 
wounds  were  cured  in  Sanquhar  Castle." 

Carnwath's  expenditure  would  appear  to  have  been  greatly 
beyond  his  means,  and  he  had  recourse  to  Veitch  for  loans 
of  money,  and,  it  is  supposed,  that  in  the  end  he  had  become 
so  seriously  embarrassed  in  his  finances  that  he  lost  hope  of 
redeeming  the  property,  and  so  parted  with  it  to  the  man  to 
whom  he  was  so  heavily  indebted. 

William  Veitch 's  son,  James,  was  the  second  Lord  Elliock, 
of  whom  we  have  the  following  account  in  Brunton's 
"  Historical  Account." 

History  of  Sanquhar.  105 

"1761,  March  6th. — James  Veitch  of  Elliock,  son  of 
William  Veitch  of  Elliock,  was  admitted  advocate  loth 
February,  1738,  having  previously  served  an  apprenticeship 
with  his  father,  who  was  a  writer  to  the  signet.  Shortly 
after  his  admission  to  the  bar,  he  visited  the  continent,  and, 
when  in  Germany,  was  introduced  to  Frederick  the  Great, 
King  of  Prussia,  and  became  so  great  a  favourite  with  that 
illustrious  monarch,  that  he  remained  a  considerable  time  at 
his  court,  and  after  his  return  to  Scotland,  kept  up  a 
correspondence  with  him.  He  was  constituted  Sheriff- 
Depute  of  the  county  of  Peebles,  13th  July,  1747,  elected 
representative  for  the  county  of  Dumfries  to  Parliament  in 
1755,  and  continued  member  for  that  county  till  1760,  when 
he  was  elevated  to  the  bench,  in  the  room  of  Andrew 
M'Dowal  of  Bankton,  and  took  his  seat  on  the  6th  March  by 
the  title  of  Lord  Elliock.  He  died  at  Edinburgh  on  the  1st 
of  July,  1793.  His  Lordship  was  endowed  with  mental 
abilities  of  the  first  order,  and  was  generally  allowed  to  be 
one  of  the  most  accomplished  scholars  of  his  time." 

Lord  Elliock  was  a  tall,  handsome  man,  and.  during  his 
residence  at  Frederick's  Court,  was  urged  to  join  the  regiment 
of  gigantic  men  which  the  king  was  forming.  On  his  leaving 
the  Prussian  Court,  Frederick  presented  him  with  a  gold 
snuff-box  as  a  token  of  his  regard 

By  Lord  Elliock  the  estate  of  Elliock  was  entailed,  the 
succession  being  confined  strictly  to  the  heirs  male.  The 
first  heir  of  entail  was  in  India  at  the  time  of  Lord  Elliock's 
death,  but  he  died  on  his  way  home.  The  estate  then  passed 
to  Colonel  Henry  Veitch,  Commissioner  of  Customs,  a  nephew 
of  Lord  Elliock,  who  died  in  April,  1838.  He  was  suceeded 
by  his  son,  James,  who  was  Sheriff  at  Hamilton  for  many 
years.  The  Sheriff  was  a  tall  man,  but  of  slender  and  wiry 
figure.  He  was  a  great  walker,  and  thought  nothing  of 
walking  on  foot  in  one  day  from  Edinburgh,  enjoying  a  day's 
shooting  at  Elliock,  and  returning  on  foot  on  the  third  day  to 
the  Metropolis.  He  was  much  respected  in  the  district,  and 


106  History  of  Sanjuhar. 

the  Town  Council  of  Sanquhar,  in  1846,  appointed  him,  un- 
solicited, to  be  their  commissioner  to  the  General  Assembly 
of  the  Church  of  Scotland,  which  appointment  he  held 
undisturbed  for  21  years. 

On  his  death,  in  1873,  he  was  succeeded  by  his  younger 
brother,  the  Rev.  William  Douglas  Veitch,  who  died  at 
Elliock  in  1884,  and  was  succeeded  by  his  son,  the  Rev. 
Henry  George  John  Veitch,  the  present  laird,  who  is  related 
by  marriage  to  the  Buccleuch  family,  his  deceased  wife 
having  been  a  sister  of  Cameron  of  Lochiel,  who  is  married 
to  a  daughter  of  the  late,  and  sister  of  the  present  Duke. 
He  has  a  son,  George  Douglas  Veitch.  who  is  heir  to  the 
estate.  It  is  gratifying  to  know  that  Elliock  House  has  been 
more  regularly  occupied  by  the  present  owner  and  his  father 
than  during  their  predecessors'  time. 

Elliock  House  is  a  plain,  country  mansion.  The  older 
portion  of  it  would  indicate  that  it  had  been  erected  not  later 
than  the  sixteenth  century,  if  not  earlier  than  that  time. 
The  room  in  which  the  Admirable  Crichton  was  born  has  a 
window  facing  the  north-east.  The  house  was  enlarged  by 
Lord  Elliock,  the  second,  by  the  erection  of  a  wing  at  each 
end.  Orders  were  given  by  his  lordship  that  a  room  should 
be  fitted  up  as  a  library.  The  workmen's  conception  of  a 
library  that  would  be  suitable  for  Lord  Elliock  was  that  its 
greatness  should  correspond  with  the  greatness  of  the  man 
who  was  to  occupy  it,  and  so  they  constructed  an  enormous 
room  with  a  gallery  on  all  four  sides,  guarded  with  a 
plain  railing,  and  reached  by  a  spiral  stone  stair  at  the 
corner  of  the  room.  At  Lord  Elliock's  next  visit  he  was 
taken  in  to  be  shewn  his  new  library.  He  no  sooner  entered, 
and  saw  this  huge,  cold,  draughty  room,  with  its  over-hanging 
gallery,  the  whole  destitute  of  the  slightest  attempt  at 
architectural  decoration,  and  conveying  not  the  slightest 
suggestion  of  comfort,  than  he  threw  up  his  hands  and 
exclaimed,  in  a  scornful  tone,  "Good  Heavens,"  and  fled, 
never  to  enter  it  again. 

History  of  Sarujuhar.  107 

The  house  is  mantled  over  with  ivy,  and  stands  beautifully 
situated  on  an  elevated  bank  close  to  the  Garple  Burn, 
which  flows  through  the  woods. 

The  talented  Miss  Sophia  F.  F.  Veitch,  the  authoress  of 
"  A  Lone  Life/'  "  Angus  Graeme,"  "  James  Hepburn,"  "  Tho 
Dean's  Daughter,"  and  other  works,  which  reveal  powers  of 
no  common  order,  is  a  sister  of  the  present  proprietor  of 


HE  chapter  of  history  which,  perhaps  more  than  any 
other,  has  made  the  name  of  Sanquhar  famous, 
and,  in  the  eyes  of  many,  has  been  regarded  as  her 
chief  distinction  and  glory,  is  the  stand  made  by 
the  pious  peasantry  of  the  south-western  district  of  Scotland 
against  the  tyrannical  dictation  in  matters  ecclesiastical  of 
the  later  members  of  the  Stuart  dynasty.  Let  us  explain 
that  the  name — the  Covenanters — borne  by  these  protesters 
against  the  tyranny  of  the  Stuarts,  was  derived  from  the  two 
Covenants — the  National  Covenant  and  the  Solemn  League 
and  Covenant,  the  first  signed  in  1638,  and  the  other  in 
1643.  The  National  Covenant  was  drawn  up  by  the  Presby- 
terian clergy,  and  was  subscribed  by  a  large  number  of 
persons  of  ail  classes,  and  bound  all  who  signed  to  spare  no 
effort  in  the  defence  of  the  Presbyterian  religion  of  Scotland 
against  the  attempts  of  Charles  I.  to  enforce  Episcopacy,  or 
Prelacy,  as  the  Covenanters  preferred  to  call  the  system,  and 
the  liturgy  on  Scotland.  Those  who  subscribed  the  National 
Covenant  promised  "to  continue  in  obedience  of  the  doctrine 
and  discipline  of  the  Presbyterian  Kirk  of  Scotland."  They 
also  gave  assent  to  various  Acts  of  Parliament  of  the  reign 
of  James  VI.,  which,  besides  repudiating  the  jurisdiction  of 
the  Pope  and  all  the  ritual  of  the  Romish  Church,  ordain 
"  all  sayers,  wilful  hearers,  and  concealers  of  the  mass,  the 
maintainers  and  resettors  of  the  priests,  Jesuits,  trafficking 
Papists,  to  be  punished  without  any  exception  or  restriction." 

History  of  Sanquhar.  109 

The  Solemn  League  and  Covenant  was  different  in  charac- 
ter from,  and  wider  in  its  scope  than,  the  National  Covenant. 
The  latter  was  a  compact,  in  w.hich  the  King  and  the  Scottish 
people  alone  were  concerned  (for  Charles  gave  his  adhesion 
to  it),  and  was  purely  a  religious  or  ecclesiastical  movement, 
whilst  the  Solemn  League  and  Covenant  embraced  the 
people  of  both  the  northern  and  southern  kingdoms,  and,  as 
it  was  a  compact  between  the  Scottish  people  and  tho 
English  Parliament,  it  may  be  said  to  have  had  more  of  a 
political  character  than  the  other.  Though  Charles  had 
adhered  to  the  National  Covenant,  he  had  now  broken  with 
the  English  Parliament,  set  up  his  standard  at  Nottingham 
(August,  1642),  and  it  was  thought  he  might  finally  be  iu  a 
position  to  reinstate  Episcopacy  in  Scotland.  The  Scottish 
people  never  were  deluded  with  the  belief  that  Charles's 
subscription  of  the  National  Covenant  was  a  conscientious  or 
willing  act — was,  in  truth,  anything  more  than  a  piece  of 
political  strategy,  whereby,  amid  his  troubles  with  his  English 
subjects,  he  sought  to  procure  peace  in  the  northern  part  of 
his  kingdom,  but  believed  that  he  would  seize  the  first 
favourable  opportunity  to  repudiate  the  agreement,  carried 
through  though  it  had  been  in  a  deliberate  and  solemn 
manner,  and  pursue  the  traditional  policy  of  his  house. 
The  distrust  they  had  of  their  monarch  was  confirmed  and 
deepened  by  the  perfidy  of  his  dealings  with  the  English 
people.  Therefore  it  was,  that  they  so  willingly  received 
overtures  from  the  commissioners  appointed  by  the  English 
Parliament,  to  endeavour  to  come  to  an  understanding  for 
the  common  defence  of  their  religious  liberties  against  the 
designs  of  a  monarch  who  belonged  to  a  dynasty,  several  of 
whose  members  had  shewn  themselves  of  a  tyrannical  and 
despotic  nature,  and  one  of  which  proved  a  narrow-minded 
and  bigoted  puppet  of  Rome,  having  no  sympathy,  but  a 
supreme  contempt,  for  the  liberties  in  matters  religious, 
which  the  Scottish  people  claimed  as  a  natural  right.  Hopes 
were  held  out  by  these  commissioners  that,  in  the  event  of 

110  History  of  Sanquhar. 

success  against  the  King,  the  Presbyterian  might  be  adopted 
as  the  form  of  Church  government  on  both  sides  of  the 
border,  and  in  Ireland  as  well.  The  prospect  thus  held  out 
of  the  triumph,  not  only  in  their  own  country  of  Scotland, 
but  throughout  the  whole  realm,  of  the  ancient  ecclesiastical 
forms,  which  alone  they  thought  scriptural,  and  to 
which  they  were  therefore  devotedly  attached,  roused  the 
Scottish  people  to  a  high  pitch  of  enthusiasm,  and  so  we  find 
that  the  Solemn  League  and  Covenant  was  largely  signed  by 
all  ranks  and  classes  in  Scotland,  and  was  ratified  by  the 
General  Assembly  at  Edinburgh  in  August,  1643,  and  by 
the  Scottish  Parliament  in  July,  1644.  One  of  the  provisions 
of  this  agreement  was  that  the  Scotch  should  send  an  army 
into  England  in  aid  of  the  Parliamentary  forces  against  the 
King,  and  this  was  done  in  January,  1644.  While,  therefore, 
the  National  Covenant  was  purely  an  ecclesiastical  compact, 
and  referred  to  the  preservation  of  the  Presbyterian  polity  in 
Scotland  alone,  the  Solemn  League  and  Covenant  had  a 
political  as  well  as  a  religious  aspect.  It  was  much  more 
comprehensive  in  its  terms  than  the  other.  Those  who 
subscribed  it  make  a  profession  of  "  attachment  to  the  Church 
of  Scotland,  and  bind  themselves  to  endeavour  a  uniformity  in 
religion  and  church  discipline  in  the  three  kingdoms  ;"  and, 
further — "  That  we  shall,  in  like  manner,  without  respect  of 
persons,  endeavour  the  extirpation  of  popery,  prelacy  (that  is, 
church  government  by  archbishops,  bishops,  their  chancellors, 
and  commissaries,  deans,  deans  and  chapters,  archdeacons, 
and  all  other  ecclesiastical  officers  depending  on  that  hier- 
archy), superstition,  heresy,  schism,  profaneuess,  and  what- 
soever shall  be  found  to  be  contrary  to  sound  doctrine  and 
the  power  of  godliness,  lest  we  partake  in  other  men's  sins, 
and  thereby  be  in.  danger  to  receive  of  their  plagues  ;  and 
that  the  Lord  may  be  one,  and  his  name  one,  in  the  three 

Such  were  the   two  famous  Covenants,  enforced  at  the 
time  by  civil  penalties,  from  which  their  adherents  in  Scot- 

History  oj  Sanquhar.  Ill 

land  derived  the  name  of  the  Covenanters,  and  in  defence  of 
which  they  contended  and  suffered  during  the  period  between 
the  Restoration  and  the  Revolution,  a  period  during  which 
the  arrogant  claims  of  the  Romish  Church  were  put  forward 
in  their  most  offensive  form,  and  were  sought  to  be  enforced 
in  the  most  brutal  and  arbitrary  manner.  Acting  through  a 
monarch,  weak  and  bigoted,  between  whom  and  his  people 
the  relations  were  those  of  mutual  distrust  and  suspicion, 
the  Papists  put  forth  the  most  strenuous  efforts  to 
trample  down  the  religious  freedom  of  a  liberty -loving  people. 
With  a  blind  infatuation,  this  policy  of  insolent  repression 
was  pursued  till  the  cup  of  iniquity  was  full.  Meanwhile, 
William  of  Orange  was  keeping  a  watchful  eye  on  the  course 
of  events,  and  choosing  well  his  time  he,  when  his  foot 
touched  English  soil,  was  hailed  with  universal  acclamation 
as  a  heaven-sent  deliverer.  In  an  incredibly  short  period  the 
revolution  was  complete,  the  schemes  of  a  cunning  and 
insolent  priesthood  were  for  ever  shattered,  and  the  last  of  a 
race  of  tyrants  was  chased  from  the  throne. 

In  this  long  struggle  between  the  Crown,  backed  up  and 
instigated  by  an  alien  power  and  influence,  and  a  high- 
spirited  people,  the  name  of  Sanquhar  holds  a  prominent 
place.  It  stands,  as  has  been  said,  in  the  centre  of  the 
district  where  the  stoutest  resistance  was  offered,  and  where 
the  persecution  was  carried  out  in  its  most  relentless  form. 
The  principles  of  the  Covenanters  were  warmly  embraced  by 
the  dwellers  in  this  pastoral  region,  largely  composed  of  the 
shepherd  and  cottar  class,  who  have  been  for  generations  the 
very  cream  of  the  Scottish  peasantry.  Men  they  were  who 
lived  "  quiet  and  peaceable  lives,  in  all  godliness  and 
honesty,"  but,  on  that  very  account,  all  the  more  devoted  and 
determined  in  the  maintenance  of  what  they  conceived  to  be 
not  merely  their  ordinary  rights  as  citizens  of  a  free  country, 
but  the  truth  of  God  as  contained  in  the  Scriptures,  and  in 
the  standards  of  their  beloved  Kirk.  They  were  inspired, 
therefore,  in  their  endurance  of  cruelty  and  persecution  not 

112  History  of  Sanquhar. 

only  by  that  patriotic  ardour  which  for  generations  had 
shewn  itself  so  strong  an  element  in  the  Scottish  character, 
but  by  a  deep  sense  of  religious  obligation.  On  their  faith- 
ful adherence  to  the  principles  of  the  Covenant  depended,  in 
their  view,  not  simply  their  well-being  in  this  life,  but  their 
very  hopes  of  Heaven.  Therefore  it  was  that  they  cheerfully 
suffered  the  spoiling  of  their  goods,  and  surrendered  all  their 
worldly  prospects  and  the  comforts  and  joys  of  domestic  life. 
They  answered  with  a  readiness  and  force  which,  in  many 
cases,  put  to  silence  their  accusers,  and  they  bore  them- 
selves in  the  presence  of  death  with  a  Christian  calmness 
and  fortitude  which  baffled  and  enraged  their  persecutors, 
and  gained  favour  with  the  people. 

For  generations  their  names  have  been  revered  and 
their  memories  cherished  among  the  Scottish  people  as 
those  of  men  of  whom  the  world  was  not  worthy,  to  whose 
faithfulness  we  in  large  measure  owe  the  religious,  and,  in  a 
certain  degree,  the  political  liberty  we  now  so  fully  enjoy. 
Of  late  years,  however,  a  disposition  has  manifested  itself  on 
the -part  of  certain  writers  to  disparage  the  Covenanters  as  a 
set  of  religious  fanatics,  bigoted  quite  as  much  as  the  papists 
whom  they  so  cordially  hated,  and  to  represent  their  attitude 
to  the  ruling  powers  as,  from  the  political  point  of  view, 
treason,  which  the  authorities  were  quite  justified  in  sup- 
pressing and  punishing.  No  doubt  there  are  certain  acts  arid 
expressions  of  theirs  which  it  is  impossible  to  palliate  or 
defend,  and,  to  our  mind,  an  error  is  committed  when  it  is 
sought  to  justify  their  every  word  and  deed.  To  do  so  raises 
the  question  of  the  relations  between  religion  and  politics — 
the  use  of  the  sword  in  defence  of  religious  opinion  and 
religious  privilege.  Simpson,  the  historian  of  the  Covenanters, 
whose  admiration  of  them  was  unbounded,  in  reference  to 
the  two  famous  Declarations  at  Sanquhar,  takes  no  exception 
to  their  terms,  but  claims  that  they  were  "  the  focus  into 
which  were  gathered  those  scattered  political  doctrines  which 
were  formerly  avowed  in  the  Covenants,  but  which  had  been 

History  of  Sanquhar.  113 

obscured  by  a  long  reign  of  despotism,  and  from  which  again 
they  radiated  in  every  direction,  enlightening  men's  minds, 
and  producing  a  fuller  conviction  of  their  justness  and 
expediency,  till  at  length  the  nation,  as  a  whole,  proceeded 
to  act  upon  them,  and  annihilated  the  wretched  usurpation  of 
a  tyrant.  .  .  .  Within  the  walls  of  this  little  burgh  was 
heard  the  first  blast  of  that  trumpet  which  eventually  roused 
the  attention  of  the  realm,  and  summoned  its  energies  to  the 
overthrow  of  a  despotism  under  which  it  had  groaned  for 
nearly  thirty  years.  The  earliest  tramplings  of  the  feet  of 
the  great  host  which  ultimately  effected  the  Revolution  were 
heard  in  the  streets  of  Sanquhar."  He  further  quotes  from 
a  writer  that  "  the  Standard  of  the  Covenanters  on  the 
mountains  of  Scotland  indicated  to  the  vigilant  eye  of 
William  that  the  nation  was  ripening  for  a  change.  They 
expressed  what  others  thought,  uttering  the  indignations  and 
the  groans  of  a  spirited  and  oppressed  people.  They  investi- 
gated and  taught,  under  the  guidance  of  feelings,  the 
reciprocal  duties  of  kings  and  subjects,  the  duty  of  self-defence 
and  of  resisting  tyrants,  the  generous  principle  of  assisting  the 
oppressed,  in  their  language  helping  the  Lord  against  the 
mighty.  .  .  .  While  Lord  Russell  and  Sydney,  and  other 
enlightened  patriots  of  England,  were  plotting  against  Charles 
from  a  conviction  that  his  right  was  forfeited,  the  Covenanters 
of  Scotland,  under  the  same  conviction,  had  courage  to  declare 
war  against  him.  Both  the  plotters  and  the  warriors  fell, 
but  their  blood  watered  the  plant  of  renown,  and  succeeding 
ages  have  eaten  the  pleasant  fruit." 

It  is  such  blind  and  indiscriminating  laudation  of  the 
Covenanters  and  all  their  works  that  has  provoked  the  hostile 
criticism  of  several  subsequent  writers.  Whether,  however, 
it  be  admitted  or  whether  it  be  denied  that  the  Covenanters 
were  justified  in  their  utterances,  and  in  the  attitude  which 
they,  as  a  party,  assumed  towards  the  civil  authority,  there 
is  a  general  agreement  as  to  their  private  worth  as  indi- 
viduals and  the  godly  lives,  according  to  their  light,  which 


114  History  of  Sanquhar. 

they  led  ;  and  the  record  of  the  manly  struggle  in  which  they 
engaged  forms  an  interesting  chapter  in  the  history  of  civil 
and  religious  freedom. 

The  town  of  Sanquhar  was  situated  in  the  very  centre  of 
the  theatre  of  persecution  during  this  dark  and  troubled 
time.  In  the  eyes  of  the  persecuted  remnant  it  was  a  place 
of  importance,  and  Chambers  has  happily  named  it  the 
"  Canterbury  of  the  Covenanters."  Fugitives  from  the  east 
or  west  naturally  turned  to  it  in  their  flight,  for  the  passage 
of  the  Nith  was  always  open  by  the  bridge  opposite  the 
town,  and  was  the  only  reliable  means  of  escape  from  their 
pursuers.  It  was  the  only  town  of  any  size  within  a  radius 
of  many  miles,  and,  being  a  royal  burgh,  it  was  a  place  of 
some  political  standing.  Hence,  as  Chambers  says,  "  when- 
ever any  remarkable  political  movement  was  going  on  in  the 
country,  these  peculiar  people  were  pretty  sure  to  come  to 
the  cross  of  Sanquhar  and  utter  a  testimony  on  the  subject." 
It  was  at  Sanquhar  cross  that  Richard  Cameron's  Declaration 
was  published,  which  was  commonly  called  "  The  Sanquhar 
Declaration,"  and  was  a  most  daring  and  outspoken  expres- 
sion of  the  Covenanters'  view  of  the  political  situation  and 
their  attitude  thereto.  Not  content  with  a  declaration  of 
the  right  of  liberty  of  conscience  in  the  matter  of  religion, 
the  authors  of  it,  as  will  be  seen  by  a  perusal  of  the  document, 
foreswear  their  civil  allegiance  to  the  reigning  monarch,  and 
protest  against  the  succession  to  the  throne  of  the  Duke 
of  York.  And,  further,  they  do  not  hesitate  to  declare  their 
readiness  to  appeal  to  the  use  of  arms,  if  need  be,  in  defence 
of  their  position.  The  inevitable  result,  of  course,  was  that, 
coming  immediately  after  the  affair  at  Both  well  Bridge,  the 
attention  of  the  authorities  was  now  more  especially  attracted 
to  this  part  of  the  country,  and  regarding  the  manifesto,  as 
it  was  natural  for  them  to  do,  as  a  document  of  a  highly 
treasonable  character,  they  renewed  the  work  of  putting 
down  the  "  hill-folk  "  with  redoubled  zeal  and  fury.  "  Do 
you  own  the  Sanquhar  Declaration  ?"  was  a  test  question,  an 

History  of  Sanquhar.  115 

affirmative  answer  to  which  settled  the  fate  of  the  individual, 
whether  he  was  caught  by  the  military  or  arraigned  before 
the  council.  The  following  is  a  copy  of  this  famous  docu- 
ment :— - 

The.  Declaration  and  Testimony  of  the  true  Presbyterian,  Anti-Prelatic, 
Anti-Erastian,  persecuted  party  in  Scotland.  Published  at  Sanquhar, 
June  22,  1680. 

"  It  is  not  amongst  the  smallest  of  the  Lord's  mercies  to  this  poor  land 
that  there  have  been  always  some  who  have  given  their  testimony  against 
every  cause  of  defection  that  many  are  guilty  of,  which  is  a  token  for 
good,  that  He  doth  not  as  yet  intend  to  cast  us  off  altogether,  but  that  He 
will  leave  a  remnant  in  whom  He  will  be  glorious,  if  they,  through  His 
grace,  keep  themselves  clean  still,  and  walk  in  His  way  and  method,  as  it 
has  been  walked  in,  and  owned  by  Him  in  our  predecessors  of  truly  worthy 
memory  ;  in  their  carrying  on  of  our  noble  work  of  reformation,  in  the 
several  steps  thereof,  from  popery,  prelacy,  and  likewise  Erastian  supre- 
macy, so  much  usurped  by  him  who,  it  is  true,  so  far  as  we  know,  is 
descended  from  the  race  of  our  kings  ;  yet  he  hath  so  far  debased  from 
what  he  ought  to  have  been,  by  his  perjury  and  usurpation  in  Church 
matters,  and  tyranny  in  matters  civil,  as  is  known  by  the  whole  land,  that 
we  have  just  reason  to  account  it  one  of  the  Lord's  great  controversies 
against  us  that  we  have  not  disowned  him  and  the  men  of  his  practises, 
whether  inferior  magistrates  or  any  other,  as  enemies  to  our  Lord  and  His 
crown,  and  the  true  Protestant  Presbyterian  interest  in  this  land,  and  our 
Lord's  espoused  bride  and  Church.  Therefore,  though  we  be  for  govern- 
ment and  governors,  such  as  the  Word  of  God  and  our  Covenant  allow  ; 
yet  we,  for  ourselves,  and  all  that  will  adhere  to  us  as  the  representatives 
of  the  true  Presbyterian  Kirk  and  covenanted  nation  of  Scotland,  con- 
sidering the  great  hazard  of  lying  under  such  a  sin  any  longer,  do  by  these 
presents,  disown  Charles  Stuart,  that  has  been  reigning,  or  rather  tyran- 
nising, as  we  may  say,  on  the  throne  of  Britain  these  years  bygone,  as 
having  any  right,  title  to,  or  interest  in,  the  said  crown  of  Scotland  for 
government,  as  forfeited,  several  years  since,  by  his  perjury  and  breach  of 
covenant  both  to  God  and  His  Kirk,  and  usurpation  of  his  crown  and  royal 
prerogatives  therein,  and  many  other  breaches  in  matters  ecclesiastical, 
and  by  his  tyranny  and  breacli  of  the  very  reyes  rcgnandi  in  matters  civil. 
For  which  reason  we  declare  that  several  years  since  he  should  have  been 
denuded  of  being  king,  ruler,  or  magistrate,  or  of  having  any  power  to  act, 
or  to  be  obeyed  as  such.  As  also  we,  being  under  the  standard  of  the 
Lord  Jesus  Christ,  Captain  of  Salvation,  do  declare  a  war  with  such  a 
tyrant  and  usurper,  and  all  the  men  of  his  practices,  as  enemies  to  our 
Lord  Jesus  Christ,  and  His  cause  and  covenants,  and  against  all  such  as 
have  strengthened  him,  sided  with,  or  anywise  acknowledged  any  other  in 
like  usurpation  and  tyranny  ;  far  more,  against  such  as  would  betray  or 

116  Histoi'y  of  Sanquhar. 

deliver  up  our  free,  reformed  mother  Kirk  unto  the  bondage  of  anti-Christ, 
the  Pope  of  Rome.  And  by  this  we  homologate  that  testimony  given  at 
Rutherglen,  the  29th  of  May,  1679,  and  all  the  faithful  testimonies  of  those 
who  have  gone  before,  as  also  of  those  who  have  suffered  of  late  ;  and  we 
do  disclaim  that  Declaration  published  at  Hamilton,  June  1679,  chiefly 
because  it  takes  in  the  King's  interest,  which  we  are,  several  years  since, 
loosed  from,  because  of  the  aforesaid  reasons,  and  others  which  may,  after 
this,  if  the  Lord  will,  be  published.  As  also  we  disown,  and  by  this 
resent,  the  reception  of  the  Duke  of  York,  that  professed  Papist,  as  re- 
pugnant to  our  principles  and  vows  to  the  Most  High  God,  and  as  that 
which  is  the  great,  though  not  alone,  just  reproach  of  our  kirk  and  nation. 
We  also  by  this  protest  against  his  succeeding  to  the  crown,  and  whatever 
has  been  done,  or  any  are  essaying  to  do,  in  this  land  given  to  the  Lord, 
in  prejudice  to  our  work  of  reformation.  And,  to  conclude,  we  hope,  after 
this,  none  will  blame  us  for,  or  offend  at,  our  rewarding  those  that  are 
against  us  as  they  have  done  to  us,  as  the  Lord  gives  opportunity.  This  is 
not  to  exclude  any  that  have  declined,  if  they  be  willing  to  give  satisfaction 
according  to  the  degree  of  their  offence." 

On  the  death  of  Charles  II.,  and  the  accession  to  the 
throne  of  his  brother,  the  Duke  of  York,  the  Covenanters 
knew  what  they  had  to  expect.  James  was  a  person  who 
possessed  all  the  vices  of  the  Stuarts  in  even  a  worse  degree 
than  his  immediate  predecessor  ;  he  was  a  narrow-minded 
and  bigoted  papist,  and  his  declared  intention  was  to  thrust 
his  own  religion  upon  the  nation.  His  is,  by  no  means,  the 
only  instance  recorded  in  history  of  a  prince  who,  in  his 
public  acts,  affected  a  great  zeal  in  the  interests  of  religion, 
whilst  paying  little  regard  in  his  private  life  to  its  holy 
precepts.  Possessed  of  the  persecuting  spirit  of  his  race,  and 
exasperated  doubtless  by  the  reference  to  his  name  and 
character  in  the  Declaration  of  1680,  he  would  be  goaded 
into  fury  by  the  publication  of  a  fresh  Declaration  by  the 
same  party  on  his  accession  to  the  throne.  This  was  done 
by  Renwick,  at  the  instance  of  the  united  societies,  who, 
Shiels  says,  "  could  not  let  go  this  opportunity  of  witnessing 
against  the  usurpation  by  a  papist  of  the  government  of  the 
nation,  and  his  design  of  overthrowing  the  covenanted  work 
of  reformation  and  introducing  popery." 

This  second  Declaration  was  published  with  greater  pomp 

History  of  Sanquhar.  117 

and  circumstance  than  the  first.  Ren  wick,  as  he  marched 
up  the  street  of  the  old  town,  was  accompanied  by  about  two 
hundred  men.  Simpson  says  that  "  they  were  armed  with 
weapons  of  defence,  and  that  their  sudden  appearance  with- 
out warning  in  the  heart  of  the  town  caused  considerable 
alarm  in  the  townsfolk,  at  the  unceremonious  intrusion  of  so 
large  an  armed  force.  Their  purpose,  however,  was  soon 
apparent.  They  were  not  come  to  pillage  the  inhabitants, 
nor  to  spill  one  drop  of  blood,  but  to  testify  publicly  their 
adherence  to  the  covenanted  cause  of  the  Reformation. 
Having  read  their  Declaration  aloud  in  the  audience  of  the 
people,  and  then  attached  it  to  the  cross  as  their  avowed 
testimony  against  the  evils  of  which  they  complained,  they, 
in  a  peaceful  and  orderly  manner,  left  the  place  with  all 
convenient  speed,  lest  the  enemy,  to  whom  information  of 
their  proceedings  would  instantly  be  transmitted,  should 
pursue  them."  This  scene  occurred  on  the  28th  of  May, 
1685.  The  following  is  a  copy  of  this  Declaration  : — 

"  A  few  wicked  and  unprincipled  men  having  proclaimed  James,  Duke  of 
York — though  a  professed  Papist  and  excommunicated  person — to  be  King 
of  Scotland,  etc.,  we,  the  contending  and  suffering  remnant  of  the  pure 
Presbyterians  of  the  Church  of  Scotland,  do  hereby  deliberately,  jointly, 
and  unanimously  protest  against  the  foresaid  proclamation,  in  regard  that 
it  is  choosing  a  murderer  to  be  a  governor,  who  hath  shed  the  blood  of  the 
saints  ;  the  height  of  confederacy  with  an  idolater,  which  is  forbidden  in 
the  law  of  God  ;  contrary  to  the  Declaration  of  the  Assembly  of  1649,  and 
to  the  many  wholesome  and  laudable  Acts  of  Parliament;  and  inconsistent 
with  the  safety,  faith,  conscience,  and  Christian  liberty  of  a  Christian 
people  to  choose  a  subject  of  anti-Christ  to  be  their  supreme  magistrate. 
And  further,  seeing  bloody  Papists,  the  subjects  of  anti-Christ,  are  become 
so  hopeful,  bold,  and  confident  under  the  perfidy  of  the  said  James,  Duke 
of  York,  and  hoping  itself  like  to  be  intruded  again  upon  those- covenanted 
lands,  and  an  open  door  being  made  thereto  by  its  accursed  and  abjured 
harbinger,  prelacy,  which  these  three  kingdoms  are  equally  sworn  against, 
we  do  in  like  manner  protest  against  all  kind  of  popery,  in  general  and 
particular  heads,  etc. 

"  Finally,  we  being  misrepresented  to  many  as  persons  of  murdering  and 
assassinating  principles,  and  which  principles  and  practices  we  do  hereby 
declare,  before  God,  angels,  and  men,  that  we  abhor,  renounce,  and  detest ; 
as  also  all  manner  of  robbing  of  any,  whether  open  enemies  or  others, 

118  History  of  Sanquhar. 

which  we  are  most  falsely  aspersed  with,  either  in  their  gold,  their  silver, 
or  their  gear,  or  any  household  stuff.  Their  money  perish  with  them- 
selves ;  the  Lord  knows  that  our  eyes  are  not  after  these  things. 

"And,  in  like  manner,  we  do  hereby  disclaim  all  unwarrantable  practices 
committed  by  any  few  persons  reputed  to  be  of  us,  whereby  the  Lord  hath 
been  offended,  His  cause  wronged,  and  we  all  made  to  endure  the  scourge 
of  tongues,  for  which  things  we  have  desired  to  make  conscience  of  mourn- 
ing before  the  Lord  both  in  public  and  private." 

In  addition  to  these  two  important  declarations  four  others 
of  minor  importance  were  published  at  Sanquhar  after  the 
Revolution — the  first  on  10th  August,  1692  ;  the  second  on 
November  6,  1695  ;  the  third  on  May  21,  1703  ;  and  the 
fourth  in  1707. 

The  beautiful  and  well-known  poem,  "  The  Cameronian's 
Dream,"  which  describes  the  affair  of  Airsmoss,  in  which 
Cameron,  the  Covenanting  preacher  and  leader,  fell,  was 
written  by  James  Hyslop,  whose  collected  works,  together 
with  an  interesting  biographical  sketch,  were  published  in 
1887.  Hyslop  was  born  at  Damhead,  near  the  mouth  of  the 
romantic  Glen  Aylmer,  on  the  farm  of  Kirkland,  in  the 
neighbouring  parish  of  Kirkconnel,  on  23rd  July,  1798. 
Young  Hyslop,  when  at  school  at  Kirkconnel,  gave  proof  of 
superior  intellectual  powers.  By  and  bye  he  went  to  reside 
with  his  paternal  grandfather  at  Wee  Carco,  on  the  banks  of 
Crawick,  by  whom  he  was  sent  to  Sanquhar  School  during 
the  winter  season.  Hyslop  chose  the  calling  of  a  shepherd, 
and  situated  as  he  was  in  the  heart  of  the  Covenanting 
country,  and  associating  every  day  of  his  life  with  the  direct 
descendants  of  some  of  the  more  famous  families,  whose 
members  had  given  an  unflinching  adherence  to  the  Cove- 
nanting cause,  his  mind  was  imbued  with  a  warm  sympathy 
for  the  persecuted  remnant,  and  his  poetic  imagination  was 
fired  with  the  recital  of  the  more  stirring  incidents  of  the 
struggle.  That  at  Airsmoss,  a  situation  of  wild  solitude  in 
the  not  distant  neighbourhood,  had  particularly  impressed 
him,  and  supplied  the  theme  of  this  poem  of  exquisite  beauty, 
in  which  the  scene  is  described  in  language  of  singular  felicity, 

History  of  Sanquhar.  119 

while  the  story  of  the  battle  is  told  with  dramatic  power,  the 
whole  being  invested  with  a  fine  touch  of  imagination,  and 
breathing  the  spirit  of  reverence  with  which  the  Covenanters 
were,  and  still  are,  regarded  by  the  peasantry  of  the  district. 
Hyslop  was  employed  as  a  shepherd  in  "  Wellwood's  dark 
valley," and  subsequently  was  engaged  as  ateacher  inGreenock. 
His  income  from  the  latter  source  was  very  scanty,  and  his 
anxieties  were  increased  by  the  enfeebled  state  of  his  health. 
His  heart  yearned  for  his  native  Nithsdale,  to  which  he 
returned,  and  where  he  found  a  warm  welcome.  He  after- 
wards sought  to  mend  his  fortunes  abroad,  and  sailed  for 
South  America  in  July,  1821.  He  returned  to  his  native 
country  three  years  after,  where  he  frequently  resided  with 
Dr  Cringan  at  Ryehill.  He  subsequently  obtained  the 
appointment  of  tutor  for  His  Majesty's  ship  "  Tweed,"  in 
which  he  sailed  for  the  Cape  of  Good  Hope  in  1827.  Hyslop 
landed  in  the  company  of  several  of  the  ship's  officers  on  one 
of  the  Cape  Verd  Islands,  where,  after  being  drenched  in  a 
tropical  rain,  they  lay  all  night  in  the  open  air.  The  result 
in  Hyslop's  case  was  that  he  caught  fever,  and  died  on  the 
4th  of  November.  His  body  was  committed  to  the  deep 
witli  naval  honours.  His  death  caused  deep  regret  through- 
out a  wide  circle  of  friends. 


Ix  a  dream  of  the  night  I  was  wafted  away 
To  the  moorlands  of  mist  where  the  martyrs  lay, 
Where  Cameron's  sword  and  his  bible  are  seen 
Engraved  on  the  stone  where  the  heather  grows  green. 

'Twas  a  dream  of  those  ages  of  darkness  and  blood, 
When  the  minister's  home  was  the  mountain  ajid  wood  ; 
When  in  Wellwood's  dark  valley  the  Standard  of  Zion, 
All  bloody  and  torn,  'mong  the  heather  was  lying. 

'Twas  morning,  and  summer's  young  sun  from  the  east 

Lay  in  loving  repose  on  the  green  mountain's  breast ; 

On  Wardlaw  and  Cairntable  the  clear  shining  dew 

Glistened  sheen  'mong  the  heath-bells  and  mountain  flowers  blue. 

And  far  up  in  heaven,  near  the  white  sunny  cloud, 
The  song  of  the  lark  was  melodious  and  loud, 

1 20  History  of  Sanquhar. 

And  in  Glenmuir's  wild  solitude,  lengthened  and  deep, 
Were  the  whistling  of  plovers  and  bleating  of  sheep. 

And  Wellwood's  sweet  valley  breathed  music  and  gladness, 
The  fresh  meadow  blooms  hung  in  beauty  and  redness  ; 
Its  daughters  were  happy  to  hail  the  returning, 
And  drink  the  delights  of  July's  sweet  morning. 

But,  ah  !  there  were  hearts  cherished  far  other  feelings, 

Illumed  by  the  light  of  prophetic  revealings, 

Who  drank  from  the  scenery  of  beauty  but  sorrow, 

For  they  knew  that  their  blood  would  bedew  it  to-morrow. 

'Twas  the  few  faithful  ones,  who  with  Cameron  were  lying 
Concealed  'mong  the  mist  where  the  heath-fowl  were  crying, 
For  the  horsemen  of  Earlshall  around  them  were  hovering, 
And  their  bridle-reins  rang  through  the  thin  misty  covering. 

Their  faces  were  pale,  and  their  swords  were  unsheathed, 
But  the  vengeance  that  darkened  their  brow  was  unbreathed  ; 
With  eyes  turned  to  heaven,  in  calm  resignation, 
They  sang  their  last  song  to  the  God  of  salvation. 

The  hills,  with  the  deep,  mournful  music,  were  ringing, 
The  curlew  and  plover  in  concert  were  singing  ; 
But  the  melody  died  'mid  derision  and  laughter, 
As  the  host  of  ungodly  rushed  on  to  the  slaughter. 

Tho'  in  mist,  and  in  darkness,  and  in  fire  they  were  shrouded, 
Yet  the  souls  of  the  righteous  were  calm  and  unclouded  ; 
Their  dark  eyes  flashed  lightning,  as,  firm  and  unbending, 
They  stood  like  the  rock  that  the  thunder  was  rending. 

The  muskets  were  flashing,  the  blue  swords  were  gleaming, 
The  helmets  wei-e  cleft,  and  the  red  blood  was  streaming, 
The  heavens  grew  black,  and  the  thunder  was  rolling, 
When  in  Wellwood'a  dark  moorlands  the  mighty  were  falling. 

When  the  righteous  had  fallen,  and  combat  was  ended, 
A  chariot  of  fire  through  the  dark  cloud  descended  ; 
Its  drivers  were  angels  on  horses  of  whiteness, 
And  its  burning  wheels  turned  on  axles  of  brightness. 

A  seraph  unfolded  its  doors  bright  and  shining, 
All  dazzling  like  gold  of  the  seventh  refining, 
And  the  souls  that  came  forth  out  of  great  tribulation, 
Have  mounted  the  chariots  and  steeds  of  salvation. 

On  the  arch  of  the  rainbow  the  chariot  is  gliding, 
Through  the  path  of  the  thunder  the  horsemen  are  riding — 
Glide  swiftly,  bright  spirits,  the  prize  is  before  ye, 
A  crown  never  failing,  a  kingdom  of  glory. 

History  of  Sanquhar.  121 

It  is  not  proposed  to  relate  at  any  length  the  traditional 
stories  of  the  sufferings  and  deliverances  of  the  Covenanters, 
a  work  which  has  been  fully  accomplished  by  Dr  Simpson, 
of  Sanquhar,  whose  "  Traditions  of  the  Covenanters "  is 
regarded  as  the  greatest  authority  on  the  subject.  At  the 
same  time,  there  may  be  culled  from  his  writings  a  few  of 
the  more  authentic  of  those  tales,  particularly  such  as  refer 
to  persons  and  families  identified  with  the  district,  and  bear 
the  greatest  air  of  probability. 

"  One  of  the  most  prominent  of  the  Covenanters  was 
Alexander  Williamson,  who  lived  at  Cruffell,  up  the  valley 
of  the  Euchan.  On  a  certain  Sabbath,  Williamson  carried 
his  infant  over  the  rugged  heights  of  the  Scar,  to  be  baptized 
at  a  conventicle  held  on  the  water  of  Deuch,  in  the  wilds  of 
Carsphairn.  During  his  absence,  his  wife,  Marion  Haining, 
who  remained  at  home,  observed  the  troopers  wending  their 
way  slowly  along  the  banks  of  Euchan,  in  the  direction  of 
her  dwelling.  The  cradle  was  standing  empty  on  the  floor, 
in  which  the  infant  had  been  sleeping.  It  occurred  to 
Marion  that  questions  might  probably  be  asked  respecting 
the  infant's  absence,  which  might  lead  to  a  discovery,  and 
she  made  up  a  bundle  of  clothes  somewhat  in  the  form  of  a 
baby,  and  placed  it  in  the  cradle.  The  device  was  successful, 
for  the  soldiers  when  they  arrived  did  not  happen  to  discover 
the  circumstance,  and  hence  no  ensnaring  questions  were 
put  to  her.  They  remained  a  while  about  the  house,  and 
behaved  as  it  best  suited  them  ;  and  doubtless,  according  to 
their  custom,  regaled  themselves  with  what  provisions  they 
could  find,  and  left  the  place  at  their  own  convenience  ;  and 
thus  this  pious  household  was  on  this  occasion  spared  from 
further  outrage. 

"  On  the  south  of  this  the  eye  rests  on  the  moorlands  that 
lie  beyond  the  braes  of  Elliock.  In  this  waste  there  lived 
in  those  disastrous  days  a  venerable  matron,  whose  house 
was  an  occasional  resort  to  the  wanderers  who  traversed  the 
desert.  A  soldier  of  the  company  that  lay  at  Elliock,  it  is 


122  History  of  Sanquhar. 

said,  often  visited  this  lonely  hut  by  stealth,  and  conveyed 
secret  information  with  regard  to  the  movements  of  the 
troopers,  so  that  the  friends  in  hiding  might  look  to  them- 
selves, and  impart  cautious  notice  to  their  brethren  in  other 
places.  A  domestic  servant  in  the  house  of  Elliock,  it  is 
said,  who  knew  the  design  of  his  masters,  overhearing  in  the 
parlour  their  communications,  used  to  station  himself  under 
the  awning  of  a  wide-spreading  tree,  beside  a  mountain 
brook,  and  tell  the  tree  the  secret  he  wished  to  convey, 
while  in  a  cavity  beneath  the  fantastic  roots  lay  one  who 
listened  to  his  words,  and  who  instantly  carried  the  tidings 
to  his  suffering  brethren. 

"  Not  far  from  this,  on  the  farm  of  South  Mains,  opposite 
the  town  of  Sanquhar,  there  wonued  a  worthy  man  of  the  name 
of  Hair,  who  was  in  the  habit  of  concealing  the  wanderers 
in  his  house.  On  one  occasion  he  had  a  few  of  them  in  his 
barn,  and  some  of  the  troopers  of  Elliock  having  arrived 
before  the  door,  he  dreaded  that  they  had  come  to  search 
the  premises,  and  was  greatly  concerned  for  the  safety  of 
those  he  had  in  concealment.  To  his  agreeable  surprise, 
however,  he  found  that  they  had  come  in  quest  of  corn  for 
their  horses,  which  they  wished  to  purchase  from  him.  He 
led  them  into  the  barn  to  examine  the  heaps  on  the  floor, 
and  great  was  the  consternation  of  those  who  were  hidden 
among  the  straw  when  they  perceived  that  the  enemy  was 
so  near  them,  and  when  the  incidental  removal  of  a  little  of 
the  straw  or  of  the  sheaves  of  corn  might  have  revealed  their 
retreat ;  but  they  were  eased  of  the  burden  of  their  anxiety 
when  the  party  peaceably  left  the  place.  This  man,  Hair, 
belonged  to  an  extensive  family  of  the  same  name,  who  were 
all  Covenanters.  One  of  them,  together  with  a  friend  named 
Corson,  was  discovered  in  a  hollow  on  the  farm  of  Cairn 
engaged,  it  is  supposed,  in  devotional  exercises.  The  sound 
of  their  voices  in  prayer,  or  in  the  singing  of  psalms,  probably 
attracted  the  notice  of  the  soldiers,  and  drew  them  to  the 
spot.  The  circumstances  in  which  they  were  found  were 

History  of  Sanquhar.  123 

enough  to  ensure  their  death,  and,  therefore,  according  to 
the  custom  of  the  times,  and  the  license  of  the  troopers,  they 
were  without  ceremony  shot  on  the  spot.  They  lie  interred 
on  the  south  side  of  the  road  leading  from  Sanquhar  to  New 
Cumnock,  where  a  rude  stone  pillar  points  out  their  resting- 
place.  Hair  was  one  of  five  brothers  who  occupied  the  farm 
of  Glenquhary,  in  the  parish  of  Kirkconnel,  of  which  they 
were  the  proprietors.  They  were  ejected  from  their  patri- 
mony, however,  on  account  of  their  nonconformity,  and  forced 
to  wander  in  the  desolate  places  of  the  country.  One  of  the 
five  brothers  was  at  the  battle  of  Pentland,  which  would 
doubtless  render  the  whole  family  more  obnoxious  to  the 
dominant  party.  It  is  probable  that  Hair  of  Burncrook's, 
elsewhere  mentioned,  and  who  effected  his  escape  from  the 
dragoons  at  Glen  Aylmer,  was  one  of  the  same  family  ;  and 
it  is  equally  probable  that  Hair  of  Cleuchfoot  and  William 
Hair  of  South  Mains  were,  if  not  of  the  household  of  Glen- 
quhary, at  least  related.  In  the  old  churchyard  of  Kirk- 
connel, which  is  situated  at  the  base  of  the  mountains,  and 
near  the  mouth  of  this  romantic  glen,  there  are  to  be  seen, 
in  its  north-west  corner,  six  thrugh-stones  belonging  to  this 
family,  indicating  the  successive  generations  that  have  been 
gathered  to  their  fathers. 

"  At  a  distance  of  three  miles  from  Sanquhar,  on  the 
east,  is  the  farm  of  Auchengruith,  once  the  residence  of 
Andrew  Clark,  a  man  of  some  celebrity  in  this  locality  in 
the  times  of  the  Covenant.  Andrew,  it  is  said,  had  nine 
sons,  all  reared  in  his  own  principles,  and  who  were  stout 
defenders  of  the  Nonconformist  cause.  It  was  on  this  farm 
that  Peden  had  an  occasional  hiding  place,  at  the  mouth  of 
the  dark  Glendyne  ;  and  it  was  on  the  grey  hill  of  Auchen- 
gruith that  the  seasonable  intervention  of  the  snowy  mist, 
descending  from  the  height  above,  saved  him  from  his 

"  A  scene  of  a  tragic  kind  was  enacted  at  this  house  at 
Auchengruith.  Some  time  previously,  Adam  Clark  of 

History  of  Sanquhar. 

Glenim,  on  the  opposite  side  of  Mennock  Glen,  engaged 
to  guide  a  party  of  troopers  through  the  wilds  on  their  way 
to  surprise  a  conventicle.  Arrived  in  the  vicinity  of  the 
Stake  Moss,  Clark  pressed  forward,  leaping  the  mossy  ditches 
with  a  nimble  bound  ;  and  the  horses  plunging  after,  one 
after  another  stuck  fast  in  the  sinking  peat  ground.  Clark 
made  his  escape  over  the  dark  heath,  leaving  the  troopers  to 
extricate  themselves.  It  seems  that  young  Andrew  Clark 
of  Auchengruith  bore  a  striking  resemblance  to  this  Adam 
Clark  of  Glenim.  One  day  the  dragoons  met  Andrew  in  the 
moors,  and  believing  him  to  be  the  person  who  had  led  them 
into  the  moss,  apprehended  him,  and  carried  him  to  his 
father's  house.  He  protested  that  he  was  not  the  man  who  had 
played  them  this  trick,  but  his  protests  were  unavailing.  The 
troopers  affirmed  that  he  was  the  very  individual.  In  those 
days  the  execution  of  a  man  after  his  impeachment  was  but 
the  work  of  a  moment,  and  Andrew  was  immediately  brought 
out  to  the  field  before  the  house  to  be  instantly  shot.  He 
was  allowed  time  to  pray — a  favour  which  in  similar  circum- 
stances was  not  granted  to  every  one.  He  knelt  down  on 
the  bent  in  presence  of  his  enemies,  and  of  all  his  father's 
household.  Meanwhile  a  messenger  had  been  instantly 
despatched  to  convey  the  information  of  what  was  going  on 
at  Auchengruith  to  an  aged  and  worthy  woman  who  lived 
at  a  place  not  far  off,  called  Howat's  Burnfoot,  and  who  had 
been  Andrew's  nurse,  and  for  whom  she  cherished  a  more 
than  ordinary  affection.  She  was  a  woman  of  great  sagacity, 
magnanimity,  and  piety ;  besides,  she  had  seen  much,  both 
in  her  native  country  and  foreign  lands,  for  she  had  accom- 
panied her  husband  for  sixteen  years  in  the  continental  wars, 
and  had  experienced  a  variety  of  fortune.  The  woman  lost 
no  time  in  presenting  herself  before  Colonel  Douglas  and  his 
company.  When  she  arrived,  Andrew  had  ended  his  prayer, 
and  his  execution  was  about  to  take  place.  "Halt,  soldiers!" 
cried  the  matron  ;  "  halt,  and  listen  to  me."  She  then  bore 
testimony  that  this  was  not  the  man  who  had  been  concerned 

History  of  Sanquhar.  1 25 

in  the  affair  of  the  Stake  Moss.  "  Sir,"  she  exclaimed,  turn- 
ing to  Colonel  Douglas,  "  if  you  be  a  true  soldier,  hearken  to 
the  wife  of  one  who  warred  under  the  banner  of  your 
honoured  uncle  in  countries  far  from  this  ;  and  for  your 
uncle's  sake,  by  whose  side  my  husband  fought  and  bled, 
and  for  whose  sake  he  would  have  sacrificed  his  life,  I  beg 
the  life  of  this  man,  for  whom  in  his  infancy  I  acted  the  part 
of  a  mother,  and  for  whom,  now  in  his  prime  of  manhood,  I 
cherish  all  the  warmth  of  a  mother's  true  affection,  I  beg  on 
my  knees  the  life  of  this  innocent  man."  "  My  good 
woman,"  the  Colonel  replied,  "his  life  you  shall  have.  Your 
appearance  is  the  guarantee  for  the  verity  of  your  statements, 
and  you  have  mentioned  a  name  that  has  weight  with  me. 
Soldiers  !  let  him  go."  In  this  way  was  the  tragical  scene  at 
Auchengruith  terminated,  and  Andrew  Clark  restored  to  his 
friends.  This  same  Andrew,  it  would  appear,  who  became  a 
smith  at  Leadhills,  at  last  suffered  in  the  Grassmarket  of 
Edinburgh,  along  with  Thomas  Harkness  and  Samuel 

"  Auchentaggart,  on  the  opposite  side  of  the  Glendyne  burn 
from  Auchengruith,  was  another  haunt  of  the  worthies.  It 
was  wh'ile  a  party  of  the  wanderers  were  in  this  house,  par- 
taking of  refreshment,  that  a  company  of  soldiers  appeared 
before  the  door.  The  poor  men  saw  that  there  was  but 
little  likelihood  of  escape,  and,  in  combination,  they  rushed 
suddenly  at  one  bolt  from  the  door,  scared  the  horses, 
stupefied  the  troopers,  and  fled  in  the  direction  of  Glendyne, 
whose  steep  banks  prevented  a  successful  pursuit,  and  in  this 
way  escaped. 

"  It  was  in  this  vicinity,  too,  that  it  is  said  Peden,  in  flight 
before  the  horsemen,  hid  himself  under  a  projecting  bank, 
close  by  the  side  of  a  streamlet,  when  the  horses  came  on, 
and  passed  the  rivulet  at  the  very  spot  where  the  saintly 
man  lay  crouching  under  his  mossy  coverlet,  and  the  foot  of 
one  of  the  animals,  crushing  through  the  sod,  grazed  his 
head,  and  pressed  his  bonnet  into  the  soft  clay,  while  he 
escaped  unhurt. 

126  History  of  Sanquhar. 

"  To  the  north  of  this  is  the  "Martyrs'  Knowe,"  which  must 
have  received  this  designation  from  the  killing  of  some  one 
of  the  worthies  on  the  spot,  though  tradition  has  retained 
neither  the  name  of  the  person  nor  the  circumstances.  It 
was  here  that  Urumlanrig,  while  in  pursuit  of  the  wanderers, 
met  with  a  signal  defeat  by  a  thunderstorm  which  broke 
out  suddenly,  it  is  said,  among  the  mountains,  and  terrified 
the  troopers  so  that  every  man  fled  for  shelter,  and  let  go 
their  prisoners  in  the  turmoil,  some  of  whom  were,  however, 
afterwards  caught  and  shot  on  the  neighbouring  heights. 

"  An  anecdote  is  told  of  a  pious  man  named  Hair,  a  member 
of  the  family  above  referred  to,  who  lived  in  a  secluded  spot 
called  Burncrooks,  near  Kirklaud,  in  the  neighbouring  parish 
of  Kirkconnel.  This  inoffensive  man  was  seized  by  his  per- 
secutors, and  was  doomed  to  die.  The  cruel  and  brutal 
conduct  of  the  dragoons  was  peculiarly  displayed  in  his 
treatment.  They  rallied  him  on  the  subject  of  his  death, 
and  told  him  that  they  intended  to  kill  him  in  a  way  that 
would  afford  them  some  merriment :  that,  as  his  name  was 
Hair,  they  wished  to  enjoy  something  of  the  same  sport  in 
putting  an  end  to  his  life  that  they  used  to  enjoy  in  killing 
the  cowering  and  timid  animal  that  bore  a  similar  name. 
Instead,  therefore,  of  shooting  him  before  his  own  door,  they 
placed  him  on  horseback  behind  a  dragoon,  and  carried  him 
to  the  top  of  a  neighbouring  hill,  that  in  the  most  conspicuous 
and  insulting  manner  they  might  deprive  him  of  his  life. 
The  spot  where  the  cavalcade  halted  happened  to  be  on  the 
very  brink  of  one  of  the  most  romantic  glens  in  the  west  of 
Scotland.  .  Glen  Aylmer  forms  an  immense  cleft  between  two 
high  mountains,  and  opens  obliquely  towards  the  meridian 
sun.  The  descent  on  either  side,  for  several  hundred  feet,  is 
very  steep,  and  in  some  places  is  almost  perpendicular.  The 
whole  valley  is  clothed  with  rich  verdure,  and  through  its 
centre  flows  a  gentle  stream  of  many  crooks  and  windings, 
which,  from  the  summit  of  the  glen,  is  seen  like  a  silver 
thread  stretching  along  the  deep  bottom  of  the  glen.  The 

History  of  Sanquhar.  127 

party  of  dragoons,  having  reached  the  place  where  they 
intended  to  shoot  their  captive,  had  made  a  halt  for  the 
purpose  of  dismounting,  and  the  soldier  behind  whom  our 
worthy  was  seated  proceeded  to  unbuckle  the  belt  which,  for 
greater  security,  we  may  suppose,  bound  the  prisoner  to  his 
person,  when  Hair,  finding  himself  disengaged,  slid  from  the 
horse  behind,  and,  alighting  on  the  very  edge  of  the  steep 
declivity,  glided  with  great  swiftness  down  the  grassy  turf, 
and,  frequently  losing  his  footing,  he  rebounded  from  spot  to 
spot,  till  at  last  he  regained  his  feet,  and  ran  at  his  utmost 
speed  till  he  reached  the  bottom.  The  soldiers  looked  with 
amazement,  but  durst  not  follow  ;  they  fired  rapidly,  but 
missed  him,  and  were  left  to  gnaw  their  tongues  in  disap- 

"  Afamilysomewhat  famous  in  the  annals  of  the  Covenanters 
was  that  of  the  Laings  of  Blagannoch,  a  place  situated  in  a 
solitary  spot  beside  the  burn  of  that  name,  which,  taking  its 
rise  behind  the  Bale  Hill,  is  joined  at  Blagannoch  by  another 
burn,  and  the  united  waters  bear  the  name  of  Spango,  which 
falls  into  Crawick  four  miles  further  down.  The  Laings 
were  resident  in  Blagannoch  for  well  nigh  400  years,  and  the 
members  sympathised  with  the  covenanting  cause.  A  most 
prominent  member  of  the  family  was  Patrick,  born  in  1641. 
He  enlisted  in  the  Scots  Greys  in  his  eighteenth  year,  and 
proved  himself  a  gallant  and  intrepid  soldier.  He  was 
dexterous  in  the  use  of  the  sword,  and  his  officers  regarded 
him  as  one  of  the  best  and  bravest  soldiers  in  their  troops. 
Patrick  was  in  the  King's  service,  for  he  had  enlisted  in  the 
army  prior  to  the  Restoration.  His  was  therefore  a  most 
embarrassing  situation,  and  he  feared  lest  he  should  be 
called,  in  the  performance  of  his  duty,  to  take  part  in  any 
measures  against  that  cause  which  was  dear  to  his  heart. 
The  day  he  so  much  dreaded  arrived.  A  party  of  the 
Covenanters,  to  escape  the  incessant  harassing  of  the 
enemy,  had  fled  over  the  Border,  arid  sought  refuge  in  the 
northern  parts  of  England,  and  Patrick  Laing,  whose  regiment, 

128  History  of  Sanquhar. 

it  appears,  happened  at  the  time  to  be  stationed  in  the 
neighbourhood,  was  sent  with  a  company  to  apprehend  them. 
To  disobey  the  orders  of  his  superior  was  as  much  as  his  life 
was  worth,  and  to  lend  himself  as  an  instrument  in  persecut- 
ing the  people  of  God  was  what  his  conscience  would  not 
permit.  Accordingly  he  marched  with  his  little  troop  in 
search  of  the  reputed  rebels,  but  contrived  so  to  conduct 
matters  as  to  allow  the  party  apprehended  to  escape,  and  the 
soldiers  returned  without  accomplishing  their  errand.  Laing 
was  suspected.  He  was  accordingly  committed  to  prison, 
and,  being  tried,  was  sentenced  to  banishment.  Through 
the  interposition  of  his  friends,  the  day  of  his  transportation 
was  put  off  from  time  to  time.  Through  confinement  and 
disease  he  was  reduced  to  a  skeleton,  and  was  at  last  released 
from  his  prison  in  an  apparently  dying  condition.  He  was 
permitted  to  return  to  his  native  country,  and  moving  slowly 
northward,  he  arrived  at  last  among  his  native  mountains. 
He  gradually  recovered,  and  having  brought  with  him  a  sum 
of  about  thirty  pounds,  reckoned  in  those  days  a  considerable 
fortune,  he  resolved  to  settle  as  the  occupant  of  a  little  farm 
in  some  moorland  glen.  He  found  a  retreat  among  the  wild 
Glenkens  of  Galloway,  but  Patrick  Laing  could  not  long 
remain  in  obscurity.  The  eye  of  the  notorious  Griersori  of 
Lag  was  upon  him,  and  it  was  not  long  before  he  began  to 
meet  with  annoyance  from  the  adverse  party.  In  order  to 
facilitate  his  flight  from  his  pursuers,  he  kept  a  fleet  pony  in 
constant  readiness,  which,  being  accustomed  to  scour  hills 
and  mosses,  often  carried  him  with  great  speed  out  of  the 
way  of  the  heavy  troopers.  He  was  on  one  occasion  return- 
ing home,  leading  the  pony,  which  carried  a  load  of  meal 
thrown  across  its  back,  when  he  observed  a  party  of  dragoons 
approaching.  He  tumbled  the  load  on  the  ground,  mounted 
the  nimble  animal,  and  sped  for  safety  along  the  heath. 
Patrick,  seeing  the  horsemen  following  him,  hastened  with 
all  speed  to  reach  the  bottom  of  a  precipice  called  the  Lorg 
Craig.  The  dragoons,  perceiving  his  intention,  divided  into 

Histot^y  of  Sanquhar.  129 

different  parties,  pursuing  separate  routes,  with  a  view,  if 
possible,  to  circumvent  him,  and  intercept  his  progress  to  the 
Craig.  He  reached  the  rock,  however,  before  the  soldiers 
came  up,  and  having  scrambled  to  the  middle  of  the  precipice, 
he  was  standing  still  for  a  moment  to  take  breath  when  the 
troopers  approached  the  base.  He  was  aware  that  they 
would  leave  their  horses  and  climb  after  him.  There  was 
now  no  way  of  escape  left  for  him  but  to  mount,  if  possible, 
to  the  top  of  the  rock  ;  and  the  danger  with  which  this  was 
attended  was  to  be  preferred  to  the  danger  of  being  exposed 
to  the  fire  of  the  musketry.  He  made  the  attempt,  and 
succeeded  ;  and  when  he  reached  the  highest  point,  where 
he  stood  in  security,  he  gave  three  loud  cheers  in  mockery  of 
his  pursuers,  who,  he  knew,  durst  not  follow  in  his  track. 
Forced  to  flee  from  his  home,  he  took  refuge  in  the  darkly- 
wooded  retreats  of  the  Euchan,and  found  hospitable  entertain- 
ment among  the  pious  people  who  inhabited  its  banks.  The 
farm-house  of  Barr  is  particularly  mentioned  as  receiving  him 
kindly  ;  in  Cleuchfoot,  a  mile  to  the  west  of  Sanquhar,  he 
also  found  a  resting-place.  This  latter  place  was  situated 
near  to  the  highway  between  Ayrshire  and  Nithsdale,  along 
which  troops  of  soldiers  frequently  passed,  but  near  the  house 
was  a  dense  thicket,  into  the  heart  of  which  he  could  plunge 
at  any  time,  and  two  ravines  where  he  could  secrete  himself 
in  perfect  safety.  In  this  way,  he  wandered  about  secretly 
from  place  to  place  till  the  Revolution,  which,  though  it 
brought  a  welcome  relief  to  others,  made  but  little  alteration 
in  his  circumstances,  at  least  for  a  while.  Grierson  of  Lag, 
who  bore  him  no  good-will,  well  knowing  that  he  belonged 
to  the  despised  sect,  had  received  a  commission  to  enlist,  or 
otherwise  impress  into  the  service,  what  men  he  could  find 
in  Galloway  and  Nithsdale.  He  reported  Laing  as  a  deserter, 
and  received  authority  to  apprehend  him.  One  of  the  last 
attempts  made  by  Lag  to  get  hold  of  him  was  one  day  when 
he  was  quietly  angling  in  the  Euchan.  He  saw  three  men 
slowly  advancing  up  the  stream.  To  test  their  designs  he 


130  History  of  Sanquhar. 

left  the  stream,  and  ascended  the  brow  of  the  hill.  They 
immediately  followed,  separating  themselves  in  order  to  cut 
oft  his  retreat.  His  strength  was  fast  failing  when  he  reached 
a  hollow  space  of  spretty  ground,  in  which  he  resolved  to  hide 
himself,  and  abide  the  will  of  Providence.  When  he  reached 
the  place  he  sank  to  the  waist.  As  he  was  struggling  to 
extricate  himself,  he  observed  a  place  scooped  out  by  the 
little  brook  beneath  the  bank,  into  which  he  crept,  and 
his  pursuers,  though  they  passed  near  to  the  spot,  failed  to 
discover  his  hiding  place.  He  then  moved  to  the  north  of 
Scotland,  where  lived  one  of  his  old  officers,  a  pious  man. 
Shortly  after  his  return  he  was  present  at  a  meeting  of  the 
Society  people  at  Cairntable.  The  procedure  of  that  con- 
vention did  not  please  him,  and  he  withdrew  from  their 
connection.  He  died  at  the  house  of  Cleuchfoot,  at  the  age 
of  85  years.  His  dust  lies  in  the  Churchyard  of  Kirkconnel, 
without  a  stone  to  mark  his  resting-place. 

"  In  the  summer  of  1685,  six  men  fled  from  their  persecutors 
in  Douglasdale — namely,  David  Dun,  Simon  Patersori,  John 
Richard,  William  Brown,  Robert  Morris,  and  James  Welsh. 
They  took  refuge  among  the  more  inaccessible  heights  of 
Upper  Nithsdale,  at  a  place  called  Glenshilloch,  a  little  to 
the  west  of  Wanlockhead,  and  not  far  from  the  old  house  of 
Cogshead.  They  were  probably  drawn  to  this  particular 
locality  by  the  fact  that  Brown  was  related  to  the  family  at 
Cogshead,  by  whom  they  were  amply  supplied  with  provisions. 
A  strict  search  was  made  for  the  refugees,  and  at  length  it 
was  reported  to  Drumlanrig  that  they  were  believed  to  be  in 
hiding  somewhere  in  the  wilds  between  the  Mennock  and 
the  Crawick.  On  this  information,  Drumlanrig  collected  his 
troops,  whom  he  divided  into  three  divisions,  one  of  which 
traversed  the  glen  of  Mennock,  another  that  of  Crawick, 
while  the  third  pursued  the  middle  route  by  way  of  Glendyne. 
This  last  division  was  commanded  by  Drumlanrig  himself, 
who,  having  led  them  over  the  height  on  the  north  side  of 
Glendyne,  descended  on  the  water  of  Cog,  and  stationed 

History  of  Sanquhar.  131 

himself  on  the  "  Martyrs'  Knowe."  Meanwhile  some  of  the 
dragoons,  who  had  been  scouring  the  neighbouring  hills, 
seized  a  boy  who  was  returning  from  Glenshilloch  to  Cogs- 
head  carrying  an  empty  wooden  vessel,  called  by  the 
peasantry  a  kit,  in  which  were  several  horn- spoons — a  proof 
that  he  had  been  conveying  provisions  to  some  individuals 
among  the  hills,  whom  they  naturally  suspected  to  be  the 
men  of  whom  they  were  in  quest.  They  carried  the  boy  to 
their  commander,  who  strictly  interrogated  him,  but  without 
eliciting  anything  from  him.  The  boy's  firmness  so  enraged 
Drumlanrig  that  he  threatened  to  run  him  through  the  body 
with  his  sword,  but  on  second  thoughts  it  occurred  to  him 
that,  by  using  other  means,  he  might  succeed  in  obtaining 
all  the  information  he  desired.  He  sent  the  troopers  out  in 
the  direction  from  which  the  boy  had  been  seen  returning 
over  the  hills.  It  was  not  long  before  they,  in  descending 
the  north  side  of  the  mountain,  found  the  men  in  their 
hiding-place.  They  pounced  on  them  as  a  falcon  on  his 
quarry.  Dun,  Paterson,  and  Richard  were  captured,  while 
Brown,  Morris,  and  Welsh  made  their  escape.  A  sudden 
and  terrific  thunderstorm,  no  uncommon  occurrence  in  this 
region,  overtook  the  whole  party,  from  which  Drumlanrig 
fled,  regardless  of  his  men  or  his  prisoners.  In  the  darkness 
and  panic  that  ensued,  the  prisoners  slipped  out  of  the  hands 
of  their  captors  and  fled.  As  they  passed  the  "  Martyrs' 
Knowe,"  they  found  the  boy  lying  bound  on  the  ground,  not 
dead,  but  stunned  with  terror.  Having  liberated  him,  they 
informed  him  of  what  had  occurred,  and  directed  him  to 
keep  in  concealment  till  the  troopers  had  cleared  out  of  the 
district.  They  themselves  made  their  way  to  the  wilds  in 
the  upper  parts  of  Galloway.  The  three  men  who  escaped 
at  Glenshilloch — namely,  Brown,  Morris,  and  Welsh — fled 
northward,  but  were  intercepted  by  the  party  who  had  gone 
up  the  vale  of  the  Crawick.  Brown  and  Morris  were  shot  at 
the  back  of  Craignorth,  where  they  lie  interred  in  the  places 
respectively  where  they  fell,  at  Brown  Cleuch  and  Morris 
Cleuch,  while  Welsh  managed  to  effect  his  escape. 

132  History  of  Sanquhar. 

"The  dwelling-house  at  Glenglass,  near  the  source  of  the 
Euchan,  is  said  to  have  been  partly  constructed  with  the 
view  to  affording  a  hiding-place  to  the  destitute  Covenanters. 
At  the  one  end  it  had  a  double  gable,  the  one  wall  at  a 
distance  of  a  few  feet  from  the  other,  leaving  a  considerable 
space  between,  extending  the  whole  breadth  of  the  building. 
This  narrow  apartment  was  without  windows,  unless  it  may 
have  been  a  small  sky-light  on  the  roof.  The  entrance  to 
this  asylum  was  not  by  a  door,  but  by  a  small  square  aperture 
in  the  inner  wall,  called  by  the  country  people  a  bole.  This 
opening  was  generally  filled  with  the  "  big  Ha'  Bible,"  and 
other  books  commonly  perused  by  the  household.  When 
instant  danger  was  dreaded,  or  when  it  was  known  that  the 
dragoons  were  out,  this  chamber  was  immediately  resorted 
to  by  those  who  had  reason  to  be  apprehensive  of  their 
safety.  The  books  in  the  bole  were  removed  till  the  indi- 
vidual crept  into  the  interior,  and  then  they  were  carefully 
replaced,  in  such  a  way  as  to  lead  to  no  suspicion.  Like  the 
prophet's  chamber  in  the  wall,  this  place  could  admit  "  a 
bed,  a  table,  a  stool,  and  a  candlestick,"  and  in  the  cold  of 
winter  it  had  a  sufficiency  of  heat  imparted  to  it  by  means 
of  the  fire  that  blazed  continually  close  by  the  inner  wall. 

These  reminiscences  may  be  brought  to  a  fitting  close  with 
the  story  of 


This  glen  is  peculiar  in  being  closed  in,  to  all  appearance, 
as  much  at  the  lower  as  the  upper  end — you  feel  utterly 
shut  in  and  shut  out.  Half  way  down  is  a  wild  cascade, 
called  Kelte's  Linn — from  Captain  Kelte,  one  of  Claver- 
house's  dragoons,  who  was  killed  there. 

Defoe's  account  of  the  affair  and  of  its  Avild  scene,  in  his 
Memoirs  of  the  Church  of  Scotland,  is  so  homely  and  to  the 
quick  that  we  give  it  in  full.  It  is  not  unworthy  of  Robinson 
Crusoe,  and  is  unexaggerated  in  local  description  : — 

"  This  Entrekein  is  a  very  steep  and  dangerous  mountain  ; 

History  of  Sanquhar.  133 

nor  could  such  another  place  have  been  easily  found  in  the 
whole  country  for  their  purpose  ;  and,  had  not  the  dragoons 
been  infatuated  from  Heaven,  they  would  never  have  entered 
such  a  Pass  without  well  discovering  the  hill  above  them. 
The  road  for  above  a  mile  goes  winding,  with  a  moderate 
ascent  on  the  side  of  a  very  high  and  very  steep  hill,  till  on 
the  latter  part,  still  ascending,  and  the  height  on  the  left 
above  them  being  still  vastly  great,  the  depth  on  their  right 
below  them  makes  a  prodigious  precipice,  descending  steep 
and  ghastly  into  a  narrow  deep  bottom,  only  broad  enough 
for  the  current  of  water  to  run  that  descends  upon  hasty 
rain ;  from  this  bottom  the  mountain  rises  instantly  again 
steep  as  a  precipice  on  the  other  side  of  a  stupendous  height. 
The  passage  on  the  side  of  the  first  hill,  by  which,  as  I  said, 
the  way  creeps  gradually  up  is  narrow,  so  that  two  horsemen 
can  but  ill  pass  in  front  ;  and  if  any  disorder  should  happen 
to  tjiem,  so  as  that  they  step  but  a  little  awry,  they  are  in 
danger  in  falling  down  the  said  precipice  on  their  right, 
where  there  would  be  no  stopping  till  they  came  to  the 
bottom.  And  the  writer  of  this  has  seen,  by  the  accident 
only  of  a  sudden  frost,  which  had  made  the  way  slippery, 
three  or  four  horses  at  a  time  of  travellers  or  carriers  lying 
in  that  dismal  bottom,  which  slipping  in  their  way,  have  not 
been  able  to  recover  themselves,  but  have  fallen  down  the 
precipice,  and  rolled  to  the  bottom,  perhaps  tumbling  twenty 
times  over,  by  which  it  is  impossible  but  they  must  be 
broken  to  pieces  ere  they  come  to  stop.  In  this  way  the 
dragoons  were  blindly  marching  two  and  two  with  the  minister 
and  five  countrymen,  whom  they  had  taken  prisoners,  and 
were  hauling  them  along  to  Edinburgh,  the  front  of  them 
being  near  the  top  of  the  hill,  and  the  rest  reaching  all  along 
the  steep  part,  when  on  a  sudden  they  heard  a  man's  voice 
calling  to  them  from  the  side  of  the  hill  on  their  left  a  great 
height  above  them. 

"  It  was  misty,  as  indeed  it  is  seldom  otherwise  on  the 
height  of  that  mountain,  so  that  no  body  was  seen  at  first  ; 

131  History  of  Sanquhar. 

but  the  Commanding  Officer,  hearing  somebody  call,  halted, 
and  called  aloud — '  What  d'ye  want,  and  who  are  ye  ?'  He 
had  no  sooner  spoke,  but  twelve  men  came  in  sight  upon  the 
side  of  the  hill  above  them,  and  the  officer  called  again — 
'  What  are  ye  ?'  and  bad  stand.  One  of  the  twelve  answer'd 
by  giving  the  word  of  command  to  his  men — '  Make  ready' 
and  then  calling  to  the  officer,  said — '  Sir,  will  ye  deliver 
our  Minister?'  The  officer  answer'd  with  an  oath — 'No,  sir, 
an  ye  were  to  be  damn'd.'  At  which  the  leader  of  the 
countrymen  fir'd  immediately,  and  airn'd  so  true  at  him,  tho 
the  distance  was  pretty  great,  that  he  shot  him  thro'  the 
head,  and  immediately  he  fell  from  his  horse  ;  his  horse, 
flattering  a  little  with  the  fall  of  his  rider,  fell  over  the 
precipice,  rolling  to  the  bottom,  and  was  dash'd  to  pieces. 

"  The  rest  of  the  twelve  men  were  stooping  to  give  fire 
upon  the  body,  when  the  next  commanding  officer  call'd  to 
them  to  hold  their  hands,  and  desir'd  a  Truce.  It  was 
apparent  that  the  whole  body  was  in  a  dreadful  consterna- 
tion ;  not  a  man  of  them  durst  stir  a  foot,  or  offer  to  fire  a 
shot.  And  had  the  twelve  men  given  fire  upon  them,  the 
first  volley,  in  all  probability,  would  have  driven  twenty  of 
them  down  the  side  of  the  mountain  into  that  dredd  gulph 
at  the  bottom. 

"  To  add  to  their  consternation,  their  two  scouts  who  rode 
before  gave  them  notice  that  there  appeared  another  body  o/ 
arm'd  countrymen  at  the  top  of  the  hill  in  their  front ; 
which,  however,  was  nothing  but  some  travellers  who,  seeing 
troops  of  horse  coming  up,  stood  there  to  let  them  pass,  the 
way  being  too  narrow  to  go  by  them.  It's  true,  there  were 
about  twenty-five  more  of  the  countrymen  in  arms,  tho'  they 
had  not  appeared,  and  they  had  been  sufficient,  if  they  had 
thought  fit,  to  have  cut  this  whole  body  of  horse  into  pieces. 

"  But  the  officer  having  asked  a  parley,  and  demanded — 
'  What  it  was  they  would  have?'  they  again  replied,  'Deliver 
our  minister.'  '  Well,  sir,'  says  the  officer,  '  ye's  get  your 
minister  an  ye  will  promise  to  forbear  firiny'  '  Indeed 

History  of  Sanquhar.  135 

we'll  forbear,'  says  the  good  man.  '  We  desire  to  hurt  none 
of  ye.  But,  sir,'  says  he,  '  belike  ye  have  more  prisoners.' 
'Indeed  have  ive,'  says  the  officer.  ' And  ye  mon  deliver 
them  all,'  says  the  honest  man.  '  Well,'  says  the  officer  '  ye 
shall  have  them  then.'  Immediately  the  officer  calls  to 
•'  Bring  forward  the  minister.'  But  the  way  was  so  narrow 
and  crooked  he  could  not  be  brought  up  by  a  horseman 
without  danger  of  putting  them  into  disorder,  so  that  the 
officer  bad  them  'Loose  him,  and  let  him  go,'  which  was 
done.  So  the  minister  stept  up  the  hill  a  step  or  two,  and 
stood  still.  Then  the  officer  said  to  him — 'Sir,  an  I  let  you 
go,  I  expect  you  promise  to  oblige  your  people  to  offer  no 
hindrance  to  our  march.'  The  minister  promised  them  *Hi 
would  do  so.'  '  Then  go,  sir,'  said  he.  '  You  owe  your  life 
to  this  damn'd  mountain.'  '  Rather,  sir,'  said  the  minister, 
'  to  that  God  that  made  this  mountain.'  When  their 
minister  was  come  to  them,  their  leader  call'd  again  to  the 
officer.  '  Sir,  we  want  yet  the  other  prisoners.'  The  officer 
gave  orders  to  the  rear,  where  they  were,  and  they  were  also 
deliver'd.  Upon  which  the  leader  began  to  march  away, 
when  the  officer  call'd  again — '  But  hold,  sir,'  says  he.  '  Ye 
promised  to  be  satisfied  if  ye  had  your  prisoners.  I  expect 
you'll  be  as  good  as  your  word.'  '  Indeed  shall  I,'  says  the 
leader.  '  I  am  just  marching  away.'  It  seems  he  did  not 
rightly  understand  the  officer.  '  Well,  sir,  but,'  says  the 
officer,  '  /  expect  you  will  call  off  those  fellows  you  have 
posted  at  the  head  of  the  way.'  '  They  belong  not  to  us,'  says 
the  honest  man.  '  They  are  unarmed  people,  waiting  till 
you  pass  by.'  'Say  you  so,'  said  the  officer.  'Had  I  known 
that,  you  had  not  gotten  your  men  so  cheap,  or  have  come 
off  so  free.'  Says  the  countryman — '  A  n  ye  are  for  battle, 
sir,  we  are  ready  for  you  still ;  if  you  think  you  are  able 
for  us,  ye  may  try  your  hand.  We'll  quit  the  truce  if  you 
like.'  '  No'  says  the  officer  ;  /  think  ye  be  brave  fellows ; 
e'en  gang  your  gate'  This  was  in  the  year  1686." 

Besides   these   recorded  instances  of  the  persecution   to 

136  History  of  Sanquhar. 

which  the  nonconforming  party  were  subjected,  there  are 
doubtless  many  others  connected  with  this  district  that  have 
dropped  into  oblivion.  We  find  graves  in  the  moors,  or  what 
at  all  events  look  very  like  graves,  and  are  supposed  to  be 
the  resting-place  of  Covenanters,  who  had  either  suffered 
death  at  the  hands  of  a  brutal  soldiery  who  were  continually 
scouring  the  country,  or  who  had  died  of  diseases  caused  by 
exposure  to  cold,  hunger,  and  fatigue.  The  two  little 
mounds  on  Coniick  Meadow  have  always  been  regarded  as 
the  graves  of  two  such  sufferers.  At  the  same  time  it  is 
noticeable  that  the  number  who  were  victims  during  the 
"  killing  time  "  in  the  parish  of  Sanquhar  was  in  comparison 
few,  considering  that  it  was  in  the  very  centre  of  the  district 
where  the  fire  of  persecution  burned  most  fiercely,  and  the 
pursuit  of  suspected  persons  was  carried  on  with  the  greatest 
activity.  We  do  not  believe  that  this  was  due  to  the  number 
of  the  nonconformists  being  few,  for  the  parish,  being  largely 
pastoral,  contained  many  of  that  very  class  by  whom  the 
principles  of  the  Covenants  were  most  widely  embraced.  It 
is  known  to  all  who  have  studied  this  chapter  of  history,  that 
the  degree  of  annoyance  and  persecution  to  which  the  people 
in  any  district  were  subjected,  depended  on  the  character  and 
temper  of  the  resident  curate.  Some  of  these  curates  kept 
a  close  eye  on  all  those  who  absented  themselves  from  their 
ministrations,  and,  being  of  a  vindictive  disposition,  gave 
information  to  the  authorities,  thus  making  themselves  the 
willing  tools  of  an  intolerant  party.  Others  of  a  different 
stamp  had  none  of  this  intolerance,  respected  the  conscientious 
scruples  of  those  who  differed  from  them,  and,  in  their  hearts, 
sympathised  with  them  in  the  sufferings  and  trials  they  had 
to  endure.  Of  this  latter  class  was  the  curate  of  Sanquhar, 
James  Kirkwood  by  name,  a  good-natured,  e.asy-going 
sort  of  man,  who  contrived  to  give  his  parishioners 
little  trouble,  and  at  the  same  time  to  keep  on  good  terms 
with  the  governing  party.  Tradition  says  that,  instead  of 
seeking  occasion  against  those  who  refused  to  attend  his 

History  of  Sanquhar.  137 

ministry,  he  publicly  announced  that,  if  on  a  given  day  they 
would  assemble  within  the  churchyard,  though  they  did  not 
enter  the  church,  he  would  give  a  favourable  report  of  the 
whole  parish,  and  screen  the  nonconformists  from  the  ven- 
geance of  their  persecutors.  The  generosity  of  this  good- 
hearted  curate  is  further  illustrated  by  an  incident  related 
by  Simpson.  "It  was  current  among  the  people  of  the  neigh- 
bourhood," he  says,  "  that  two  of  the  Covenanting  brethren 
from  the  wilds  of  Carsphairn,  in  full  flight  before  the 
dragoons,  dashed  into  the  river  Nith,  and  reached  the  oppo- 
site bank  a  few  yards  below  the  manse.  It  happened  that  a 
number  of  individuals,  among  whom  was  the  curate,  were 
playing  at  quoits  on  the  green.  '  Where  shall  we  run," 
cried  the  men.  '  Doff  your  coats/  said  the  curate,  '  and 
play  a  game  with  me.'  They  did  so.  The  dragoons  imme- 
diately followed  ;  they  passed  the  curate  and  rode  on  in 
pursuit,  and  the  men,  through  his  generous  interference, 
escaped."  Another  good  story  is  told  by  the  same  author  of 
Kirkwood,  which  shows  that  he  was  not  only  on  good  terms 
with  the  powers,  but  that,  though  tainted  with  one  of  the 
vices  of  the  age.  he  was  also  a  man  of  independence  and 

"During  Lord  Airlie's  stay  at  the  Castle  of  Sanquhar 
sumptuojus  entertainments  were  given,  and  it  happened  that 
on  a  Saturday  afternoon  the  curate,  whose  humorous  and 
quaint  manners  had  often  amused  the  circle  in  the  ancient 
peel,  was  sent  for  to  entertain  Airlie  in  the  midst  of  their 
festivities.  He  was  introduced  in  his  appropriate  character 
to  Airlie,  who  found  him  in  every  respect  to  his  liking. 
Having  dined,  the  company  continued  at  wine  and  wassail 
till  supper,  at  which  late  hour  Kirkwood  probably  found  that 
it  would  have  been  more  to  his  purpose  had  he  been  at 
home  and  in  his  study,  but  he  was  induced  to  remain,  the 
party  finding  that  he  was  indispensable  to  their  entertain- 
ment. Airlie,  it  seems,  used  a  great  many  freedoms  with 
Kirkwood,  who  was  in  all  his  glory  in  the  midst  of  the 


138  History  of  Sanquhar. 

merriment  and  carousals,  and  forgot  that  the  Sabbath  was 
stealing  on  apace,  and  that  he  had  to  officiate  on  the  hallowed 
day.  When  he  found  that  it  was  past  midnight,  he  made 
sundry  efforts  to  withdraw ;  but  Airlie  as  uniformly  prevented 
him,  by  exclaiming,  'Come,  Mr  Kirkwood,  another  glass,  and 
then,'  till  daylight  began  to  dawn,  when  he  succeeded  in 
releasing  himself  from  the  besotted  party,  and  retreated 
homeward  by  the  south  side  of  the  town,  through  the  fields 
next  the  river,  and  reached  his  house  undiscovered.  Being 
now  safely  lodged  in  his  own  domicile,  he  began  to  bethink 
himself  what  was  to  be  done  against  the  approaching  hour 
of  Divine  worship  ;  not  that  he,  perhaps,  cared  much  for 
public  opinion,  but  he  felt  himself  unfitted  for  everything  but 
sleep.  Kirkwood,  it  would  appear,  was  a  man  of  ability,  and 
a  ready  speaker,  who  found  no  difficulty  in  addressing  his 
congregation  at  any  time.  It  was  probably  because  he  was 
a  man  of  this  cast  that  Queensberry  had  located  him  in  his 
present  situation.  On  this  occasion  the  curate  thought  it 
probable  that  the  party  from  the  Castle  might  attend  the 
church  that  day,  the  more  especially  as  there  might  exist 
among  them  a  certain  curiosity  on  their  part  to  see  how  he 
would  acquit  himself  after  the  night's  debauch;  and  so  after 
a  brief  repose,  he  addressed  himself  to  his  studies,  if  so  be  he 
might  be  able  to  command  something  appropriate  to  the 
occasion.  It  fell  out  exactly  as  he  opined,  for  Airlie  mani- 
fested an  unwonted  curiosity  to  see  how  his  facetious  friend 
would  acquit  himself  as  a  preacher,  and,  accordingly,  he 
repaired  to  the  church  to  witness  the  exhibition.  When  the 
hour  arrived,  the  curate,  being  now  refreshed,  and  having 
fixed  on  what  he  deemed  a  suitable  subject,  proceeded  to  the 
church  with  as  much  coolness  as  if  nothing  had  happened. 
He  had  no  sooner  entered  the  pulpit  than,  according  to  his 
anticipations,  the  company  from  the  castle  took  their  seats 
in  what  was  called  the  loft,  straight  before  the  preacher,  and 
Airlie,  with  some  of  his  troopers  behind  him,  placed  himself 
conspicuously  in  the  front.  All  this  might  have  daunted 

History  of  Sanquhar.  139 

another  man,  but  on  Kirkwood  it  made  no  impression,  other 
than  to  rouse  him  to  greater  effort,  and  to  nerve  him  with 
greater  firmness. 

"  In  those  days  the  kirks  were  each  furnished  with  a  sand- 
glass, instead  of  a  clock,  to  measure  the  time,  that  the 
minister  might  know  how  to  calculate  the  length  of  his 
discourse,  and  this  instrument  was  placed  near  the  precentor's 
hand,  whose  duty  it  was  to  turn  it  when  the  sand  had  run 
down.  These  glasses  were  of  various  sizes,  from  an  hour  to 
half-an-hour.  The  curate  had  chosen  for  his  text — '  The 
Lord  shall  destroy  the  wicked,  and  that  right  early.'  This, 
it  seems,  he  did  for  the  purpose  of  accommodating  the  word 
early,  in  its  sound  at  least,  to  one  of  his  principal  auditors, 
who  on  the  previous  night  had  teased  him  most,  and 
entangled  him  in  its  bewitching  festivities.  As  he  proceeded 
with  his  discourse,  and  waxed  warm  on  the  subject,  he  made 
frequent  use  of  the  words — '  The  Lord  shall  destroy  the 
wicked,  and  that  right  early,'  laying  emphasis  on  the  word 
early,  and  pointing  with  his  ringer  to  the  Earl,  as  if  the 
subject  had  its  whole  bearing  on  him  personally.  '  The 
Lord  will  destroy  the  wicked,  and  that  early,  too,"  again  he 
vociferated,  'and  that  early,'  till  he  drew  the  entire  attention 
of  the  audience  to  Airlie,  who  sat  boldly  confronting  him,  a 
few  yards  from  the  pulpit.  The  people  were  both  astonished 
and  amused  at  the  freedom  which  their  preacher  dared  to 
use  in  the  presence  of  his  superiors  and  these  redoubted  men, 
who  were  a  terror  to  the  country.  If  the  people  were 
astonished,  Airlie  was  no  less  so,  when  the  curate,  borrowing 
his  lordship's  expression  which  he  had  used  at  the  board  of 
revelry — '  One  glass  more,  and  then,  Mr  Kirkwood,'  when  he 
wished  to  detain  him  a  little  longer.  '  Jasper,'  said  he  to  the 
precentor,  '  the  sand  has  run  down  ;  turn  it,  for  we  want  one 
glass  more,  and  then.'  This  done,  he  proceeded,  in  his  dash- 
ing and  impetuous  way,  and  with  great  vehemence  of  action, 
to  declaim  against  the  wickedness  of  the  world,  and  to 
denounce  the  Divine  judgments  on  those  who  persisted  in 

140  History  of  Sanquhar. 

their  sins  ;  and,  casting  a  glance  over  the  congregation,  he 
cried  out — '  The  Lord  shall  destroy  the  wicked,'  and  then, 
directing  his  eyes  to  where  Airlie  sat,  he  added,  '  and  that 
early,  and  that  right  early.'  In  this  fashion  he  continued 
till  the  upper  storey  of  the  sand-glass  was  again  emptied, 
when  he  called  on  the  precentor,  '  another  glass,  and  then/ 
and  on  he  went  as  before,  pouring  forth  a  torrent  of  declama- 
tion as  continuous  as  the  sand  poured  its  stream  through  the 
smooth  throat  of  the  glass,  with  this  difference  that,  while 
the  sand  ceased  to  flow  when  it  had  exhausted  itself,  he 
never  seemed  to  fail,  nor  to  empty  himself  of  his  subject. 
How  long  he  proceeded  is  not  said,  but  certes,  the  party  from 
the  castle  had  their  patience  taxed  quite  as  much  as  their 
detention  of  the  preacher  on  the  preceding  night  had  taxed 
his  ;  and  they  were  taught  that  he  could  ply  his  glass  as 
freely  as  they  could  ply  theirs." 

There  was  a  proverb  long  current  in  this  district  which 
took  its  rise  from  the  following  occurrence  : — The  worthy 
curate  had  occasion  to  traverse  a  rugged  moor  in  the  depth 
of  winter.  It  was  an  intense  frost,  and  the  face  of  the  moor- 
land was  as  hard  as  a  board.  He  directed  his  mare  into  a 
track  in  which  she  had  on  a  former  occasion  sunk,  but  all  his 
efforts  could  not  induce  her  to  advance.  On  finding  that  his 
endeavours  were  fruitless,  he  turned  her  head  away,  with 
the  remark,  "  You  brute,  you  have  a  better  memory  than  a 
judgment,"  which  passed  into  the  proverb,  "You  have  a 
better  memory  than  a  judgment,  like  Kirk  wood's  mare." 

We  cannot  but  cherish  a  reverential  regard  for  the  memory 
of  this  worthy  curate.  It  is  but  little  that  we  have  recorded 
of  him,  but  that  little  is  highly  suggestive.  He  stands  boldly 
out  in  the  history  of  the  time,  a  figure  notable  in  more 
respects  than  one.  Evidently  a  man  of  high  intellectual 
endowments,  he  was  likewise  possessed  of  those  qualities  of 
wit  and  humour  which  made  his  society  much  prized  and 
sought  after,  and  led  him  into  situations  similar  to  those 
which  have  proved  the  undoing  of  many  a  one,  and  which 

History  of  Sanquhar.  141 

in  his  own  case  did  not  conduce  to  that  decent  sobriety  of 
demeanour  which  so  well  becomes  those  who  hold  his  sacred 
office.  On  this  side  lay  the  principal  danger  to  his  character 
and  usefulness,  and  he  may  not  have  been  sufficiently  on  his 
guard  against  the  temptations  of  social  intercourse  and 
friendly  hospitality ;  but,  though  he  may  have  occasionally 
stepped  aside  from  the  path  of  dignified  self-respect,  those 
occasional  errors  could  not  corrupt  the  true  greatness  of  the 
man.  His  repentance,  we  doubt  not,  was  deep  and  sincere. 
We  do  not  regard  the  famous  scene  in  the  church  as  a  piece 
of  bravado — the  taking  of  his  revenge  upon  those  who  had 
lowered  him  in  his  own  eyes — but  as  the  outpouring  of  his 
righteous  indignation  at  the  thought  how  he  had  been 
entrapped  into  degrading  both  himself  and  his  holy  calling  ; 
and  that,  whilst  he  hurled  his  denunciations  and  warnings  at 
the  head  of  the  wicked  and  licentious  noble,  the  thunder  of 
his  rebuke  shook  his  own  soul.  His  was  a  Knox-like  spirit 
— free,  courageous,  and  bold — and  we  can  well  conceive  how 
such  a  man  in  a  different  age,  and  in  other  surroundings, 
would  have  proved  a  very  tower  of  strength  to  the  cause  of 
righteousness  and  truth.  He  was  no  miserable  time-server 
or  crawling  sycophant,  who  would  condone  or  excuse  the 
prevailing  wickedness  of  his  time,  or  speak  with  bated  breath 
of  the  private  vices  of  his  patrons,  or  of  those  with  whom  it  was 
his  interest,  in  a  worldly  sense,  to  stand  well.  Lord  Airlie, 
judging  by  his  first  and  only  experience  of  him,  had  in  all 
probability  formed  a  false  conception  of  his  character,  but  he 
was  not  allowed  to  remain  long  deceived.  He  left  the  church 
with  a  very  different  opinion  of  the  curate  from  that  with 
which  he  entered  it.  Such  words  had  probably  never  before 
been  addressed  to  him,  but  to-day  he  was  in  the  presence  of  a 
man.  This  worthy  curate  likewise  possessed  that  combination 
of  strength  and  gentleness — of  force  of  conviction  and  toler- 
ance of  spirit,  which  is  so  rarely  found  in  the  same  person. 
In  spite  of  the  bitterness  which  the  nonconforming  party  felt 
and  expressed  towards  all  of  his  class,  he  yet,  with  singular 

142  History  of  Sanqukar. 

large-heartedness,  returned  them  only  good  for  evil.  With  a 
garrison  at  his  very  door,  eager  and  ready  for  the  work,  he 
had  but  to  raise  his  little  ringer,  and  the  lives  and  liberties  of 
his  nonconforming  parishioners  would  have  been  in  instant 
jeopardy ;  but,  no  !  the  generosity  of  his  soul  would  not 
permit  him  to  touch  a  hair  of  their  heads.  In  the  hour  of 
danger  he  threw  the  mantle  of  protection  over  a  harassed 
and  persecuted  people.  Foolish  they  must  have  appeared 
in  his  eyes,  but  the  charity  which  covereth  a  multitude  of 
sins  gently  swayed  his  heart.  We  may  conclude  that,  though 
from  their  point  of  view  the  Covenanters  regarded  him  as  an 
intruder  into  God's  heritage,  and  in  league  with  wicked  and 
sinful  men,  they  could  not  fail  to  be  impressed  with  his  true 
goodness  as  a  man,  and  the  practical  exhibition  of  Christian 
virtue  which  he  daily  set  before  them.  Verily  he  shall  not 
lose  his  reward.  "  Inasmuch  as  ye  did  it  unto  one  of  the 
least  of  these  my  brethren,  ye  did  it  unto  me." 

Though  the  memory  of  the  Covenanters  was  warmly 
cherished,  as  has  been  said,  by  their  descendants  and  succes- 
sors in  Upper  Nithsdale,  no  public  demonstration  had  ever 
been  made,  nor  any  memorial  raised,  prior  to  the  year  1859, 
in  commemoration  of  this  eventful  period  of  our  history. 
Then,  however,  a  proposal  in  this  direction  was  made,  and 
was  taken  up  with  enthusiasm  by  the  inhabitants.  Dr 
Simpson,  the  historian  of  the  Covenanters,  was  of  course  the 
leading  spirit  of  the  movement.  The  Demonstration  took 
place  at  Sanquhar  on  the  22nd  July,  I860,  one  hundred  and 
eighty  years  from  the  time  when  Cameron  made  his  famous 
Declaration.  We  take  the  following  from  an  account  of  the 
proceedings  published  at  the  time  : — 

"  A  great  concourse  of  people  from  all  quarters  convened 
in  the  ancient  burgh  to  carry  out  the  demonstration  deter- 
mined on.  The  day  fortunately  was  favourable,  being  warm 
and  bright,  though  latterly  the  sky  became  overcast  with 
clouds,  which,  later  in  the  evening,  fell  in  heavy  rain.  A 
large  number  of  strangers  had  arrived  by  early  trains  from 

History  of  Sanquhar.  143 

considerable  distances  ;  and,  as  the  hour  of  noon  approached, 
all  sorts  of  conveyances  brought  in  a  multitude  of  people 
from  the  surrounding  districts,  attired  in  holiday  garb,  and 
lending  to  the  usually  quiet  main  street  of  the  burgh  an 
appearance  of  great  bustle  and  pleasing  excitement.  From 
the  Town  Hall  an  ancient  banner  waved,  and  at  the  site  of 
the  Old  Cross  in  the  centre  of  the  town  was  to  be  seen  a  flag, 
tattered  and  stained,  yet  still  in  good  repair,  which  had  been 
at  Drumclog  and  Bothwell  Bridge,  and  bearing  the  white 
cross  of  St.  Andrew,  on  a  blue  ground,  in  one  part,  with  the 
motto  in  another  of  '  Pro  Religio  et  Liberatio '  (sic.)  This  flag 
is  now  in  the  possession  of  Mr  M'Geachan,  of  Cumnock,  a  lineal 
descendant  of  one  of  the  martyrs.  At  the  Old  Cross  had 
been  erected  a  triple  triumphal  arch,  composed  of  evergreens 
and  the  beautiful  wild  flowers  of  Scotland,  and  a  printed 
notice  indicated  that  that  was  the  identical  spot  where 
Cameron  had  made  his  famous  Declaration  on  the  22nd 
June,  1680.  The  provost,  magistrates,  and  town  council, 
the  clergy  of  various  denominations,  and  the  local  corps  of 
volunteers,  mustering  to  the  number  of  between  fifty  and 
sixty,  all  efficiently  and  cordially  assisted  in  the  demonstra- 
tion ;  and  three  brass  bands,  two  belonging  to  Sanquhar  and 
one  to  Wanlockhead,  supplied  appropriate  music  for  the 
procession.  At  twelve  o'clock  a  concourse  of  people,  num- 
bering probably  between  two  and  three  thousand,  assembled 
in  Queensberry  Square.  Provost  Whigham  ascended  a  plat- 
form and  took  the  chair.  He  was  accompanied  by  Professor 
Blackie,  Edinburgh  ;  Rev.  Dr  Simpson,  Sanquhar  ;  Rev. 
Robert  Noble,  Muirkirk  ;  Rev.  Thomas  Easton,  Stranraer  ; 
Lieut.-Col.  Shaw,  of  Ayr  ;  Rev.  Messrs  Logan  and  Crawford, 
Sanquhar,  &c.,  &c.  The  Provost  narrated  the  proceedings 
that  had  led  up  to  the  demonstration  of  that  day,  and  called 
upon  Dr  Simpson,  who  delivered  a  characteristic  and  telling 
speech,  in  which  he  recounted  briefly  the  struggle  between 
the  government  of  Charles  II.  and  James  VII.  and  the 
Scottish  people  in  regard  to  their  religious  rights,  the  devo- 

1 44  History  of  Sanquhar. 

tion  of  the  peasantry  of  the  south-west  to  the  cause  of  the 
Covenant,  and  the  brutal  persecution  to  which  they  were 
subjected.  He  vindicated  the  attitude  of  the  Covenanters, 
both  in  the  resistance  they  offered  to  the  attempts  to  thrust 
episcopacy  upon  them  and  the  renunciation  of  their  civil 
allegiance  to  the  Crown.  He  said  the  commemoration  was 
intended  to  keep  alive  the  spirit  of  their  ancestry  in  opposi- 
tion to  oppression  and  popery,  and  enjoined  upon  the  young 
people  to  imbibe  their  Christian  and  heroic  spirit. 

"The  people  then  formed  in  order  of  procession,  five  or  six 
deep,  and  moved  off.  Arrived  at  the  first  arch,  a  copy  of 
Cameron's  Declaration  was  read  by  Rev.  Mr  Crawford  near 
the  spot  where  it  was  first  given  to  the  world.  The  cross 
stood  opposite  where  he  then  was  ;  there  was  no  dwelling- 
house  near,  but  a  green  slope  came  down  towards  the  street, 
and  there  it  was  that  Richard  Cameron,  having  read  his 
Declaration,  affixed  it  to  the  cross.  He  ended  by  proposing 
three  cheers  to  the  memory  of  the  Covenanters,  which  were 
cordially  given. 

"The  march  was  resumed  till  the  ruins  of  Sanquhar  Castle 
were  reached,  where  the  assemblage  was  addressed  by 
Professor  Blackie.  The  learned  Professor  had  a  congenial 
theme,  and  having  referred  to  the  beauties  of  Scottish 
scenery,  and  in  particular  of  the  district  in  which  they  were 
assembled,  he  proceeded  to  an  eloquent  eulogy  of  the  courage 
and  independence  of  the  Covenanters,  pointing  out  the  bear- 
ing which  the  stand  they  made  had  in  helping  on  the  greater 
struggle  which  was  then  being  waged  in  both  England  and 
Scotland  against  the  tyranny  of  the  later  Stuarts.  He 
sharply  criticised  the  manner  in  which  Sir  Walter  Scott  had 
caricatured  the  Covenanters — a  proceeding  unworthy  of  his 
great  genius.  Unfortunately  this  had  been  accepted  in  many 
quarters  as  a  just  representation  of  these  worthy  men.  As 
a  set  off  he  quoted  the  testimony  borne  to  their  personal 
worth  and  the  value  of  their  self-denying  sufferings  by 
Burns,  Carlyle,  and  Froude,  and  others  well  competent  to 

History  of  Saiiquhar.  145 

form  a  correct  estimate  of  the  men  and  their  work.  He 
concluded  with  a  vigorous  denunciation  of  the  character  and 
government  of  Charles  II.  and  James  II.,  and  held  that  the 
Covenanters  were  amply  justified  in  the  attitude  they  took 
up,  though  he  doubted  the  expediency  in  the  Declaration  of 
declaring  the  King  a  traitor ;  but  the  best  of  men  were 
imprudent,  and  to  be  imprudent  on  a  great  occasion  is  to 
be  capable  of  great  and  sublime  virtue.  The  Covenanters 
were  the  prophets  of  all  that  we  now  enjoy  ;  the  pioneers  of 
constitutional  government,  the  men  who  were  the  first  to 
move  in  planting  that  tree  of  liberty  of  which  we  now  possess 
the  fruits  ;  they  laid  down  their  lives  in  that  struggle,  while 
we  have  little  else  to  do  than  make  speeches  about  them, 
cry  '  God  save  the  Queen,'  and  pay  our  taxes  now  and  then. 

"  The  assemblage  then  moved  in  procession  back  to  the 
square,  where  they  were  again  addressed  in  a  similar  strain 
by  Colonel  Shaw,  of  Ayr  ;  the  Rev.  Mr  Easton,  Stranraer  ; 
and  the  Rev.  Mr  Anderson,  Loanhead. 

"  A  soiree  was  held  in  the  evening  in  the  Crichton  School 
grounds,  at  which  the  Rev.  Dr  Simpson  presided.  The 
Chairman  recited  the  '  Cameronian's  Dream,'  and  addresses 
followed.  A  demand  was  then  made  by  the  audience  for 
Professor  Blackie,  who  said  he  had  got  all  kinds  of  usage  in 
his  day,  but  he  had  never  till  then  been  asked  to  do  anything 
so  unreasonable  as  to  make  two  speeches  on  the  same  subject 
on  the  same  day  to  the  same  audience.  He  was  prepared  to 
meet  this  dodge  of  the  Sanquharians  by  another  dodge. 
Instead  of  addressing  them,  he  would  read  two  pieces  from 
a  book  of  his,  which  had  been  greatly  cut  up  by  some  London 
snobs,  but  which  nevertheless  he  considered  contained  very 
good  poetry.  The  Professor  then  read  a  poem  on  the  martyr- 
dom of  the  two  Wigtown  maidens,  and,  in  dramatic  style,  a 
song  entitled  '  Jenny  Geddes  and  the  three-legged  stool.' 
Both  pieces  were  received  with  rapturous  applause. 

"  The  Chairman  here  read  the  following  beautiful  sonnet, 
composed  by  the  Professor  about  two  years  before  in  the  inn 


146  History  of  Sanquhar. 

at  Sanquhar,  after  a  journey  of  about  twenty  miles  over  the 
hill  from  Carsphairn  :— 

'  0  Scotland,  thou  art  full  of  holy  ground  ! 
From  every  glen,  I  hear  a  prophet  preacli  ; 
Thy  sods  are  voiceful.      No  grey  book  can  teach 
Like  the  green  grass  that  swathes  a  martyr's  mound. 
And  here,  where  Nith's  clear  mountain  waters  flow, 
With  murmurous  sweep  round  Sanquhar's  hoary  tower, 
The  place  constrains  me,  and  with  sacred  power, 
What  Scotland  is  to  Scottish  men  I  know. 
Here  first  the  youthful  hero-preacher  raised 
The  public  banner  of  a  nation's  creed  : 
Far  o'er  the  land  the  spoken  virtue  blazed, 
But  he  who  dared  to  voice  the  truth  must  bleed. 
Men  called  it  rash — perhaps  it  was  a  crime — 
His  deed  flashed  out  God's  will  an  hour  before  the  time.' 

"  The  Chairman,  at  a  later  stage,  gave  the  following 
particulars  regarding  the  conflict  at  Airsmoss.  It  took  place 
on  a  Thursday,  at  four  o'clock  in  the  afternoon,  and  that  at 
the  time  the  moorlands,  it  is  said,  were  visited  with  a 
thunderstorm,  which  circumstance  is  alluded  to  in  '  The 
Cameronian's  Dream  '- 

'  The  heavens  grew  black,  and  the  thunder  was  rolling, 
When  in  Well  wood's  dark  valley  the  mighty  were  falling.' 

With  Cameron  there  were  in  all  sixty-three,  of  whom  twenty- 
three  were  horsemen,  and  the  remainder  on  foot.  With 
Earlshall  the  number  was  more  than  double.  The  contest 
was  severe ;  the  Covenanters  fought  most  valiantly,  and 
while  only  nine  of  their  number  were  killed,  more  than  three 
times  that  number  of  the  enemy  fell.  Sir  John  Cochrane  of 
Ochiltree  was  the  person  who  revealed  the  hiding-place  of 
the  worthies  in  the  rnoss  to  Earlshall,  who  came  upon  them 
in  the  afternoon,  as  the  sky  was  lowering  into  a  storm.  It 
is  said  that  Earlshall  got  £500,  and  Ochiltree  10,000  merks 
for  their  conduct  in  this  affair.  A  short  time  after  this  the 
house  of  Ochiltree  was  burned  to  the  ground,  and  while  the 
fierce  flames  were  consuming  the  edifice,  Ochiltree's  son 
exclaimed — '  This  is  the  vengeance  of  Cameron's  blood.' 

History  of  Sanquhar.  147 

That  house  was  never  rebuilt.  A  throughstone  was  placed 
over  the  nine  martyrs,  who  were  laid  together  in  one  grave 
in  the  moor,  with  the  following  inscription  : — 

'  Hair,  curious  passenger  :  come  here  and  read. 
Our  souls  triumph  with  Christ,  our  glorious  head. 
In  self-defence  we  murdered  here  do  lie, 
To  witness  'gainst  the  nation's  perjury.' 

"  Professor  Blackie,  at  this  stage  of  the  proceedings,  pro- 
posed that  steps  should  forthwith  be  taken  to  secure  the 
erection  of  a  monument,  or  other  suitable  memorial,  at 
Sanquhar,  for  the  commemoration  of  the  Sanquhar  Declara- 

"  The  proposal  of  Professor  Blackie  was  not  lost  sight  of, 
and  on  the  llth  May,  1864,  the  monument  was  erected.  At 
the  site  of  the  ancient  cross,  where  it  was  put  up,  the  road- 
way has  been  cut  through  a  knoll  of  ground  five  feet  high 
on  the  north  side  of  the  street.  The  foundation  of  the 
monument  consists  of  square  blocks  of  granite  to  the  level  of 
the  brae-face,  and  on  that  rises  the  monument  itself,  consist- 
ing of  a  square  pannelled  pedestal,  ornamented  with  mould- 
ings, and  polished  on  the  four  sides,  above  which  a  tapering 
column  rises  to  the  height  of  22  feet.  On  the  side  facing 
the  street  it  bears  the  following  inscription  : — - 







ON  THE  22o  JUNE,  1680  ; 


THE    REV.     JAMES    R  E  N  w  i  c  K, 

ON  THE  29TH   MAY,  1685. 


'  If  you  would  know  the  nature  of  their  crime, 
Then  read  the  story  of  that  killing  time.' 

148  History  of  Sanqu  h  ar. 

"  In  a  cavity  near  the  base  of  the  column  was  deposited  a 
bottle  containing : — A  copy  of  the  Dumfries  Courier  ; 
another  of  the  Glasgow  Morning  Journal ;  pamphlet  con- 
taining an  account  of  the  Demonstration  of  22nd  June,  1860  ; 
a  handbill  of  the  same  ;  a  copy  of  Simpson's  History  of 
Sanquhar  ;  the  Register  of  the  Scottish  Temperance  League 
of  1863  ;  a  list  of  the  paupers  of  the  parish  of  Sanquhar  ;  a 
list  of  the  voters  in  the  burgh  ;  and  an  abstract  of  the  burgh 
accounts  for  1863  ;  a  copy  of  the  Illustrated  Sanquhar 
Magazine  of  1857  ;  together  with  a  collection  of  coins." 



jROM  early  times  there  existed  in  Scotland  burghs  of 
four  different  kinds — burghs  of  regality,  burghs 
free,  burghs  of  barony,  and  royal  burghs.  In  the 
year  1484,  Sanquhar  was  created  a  burgh  of  barony, 
a  corporation,  that  is,  embracing  the  inhabitants  thereof, 
and  governed  by  magistrates.  These  magistrates  were, 
however,  in  many  cases,  under  the  control  of  the  lord  of  the 
barony.  The  dignity  and  privileges  of  royal  burghs  were 
superior  to  those  of  any  other  order  of  burgh  ;  it  was,  there- 
fore, a  matter  of  pride  and  ambition  on  the  part  of  other 
burghs  to  attain  the  rank  of  a  burgh  royal.  That  could 
only  be  accomplished  by  a  royal  charter,  granted  on  applica- 
tion by  the  inhabitants. 

One  essential  condition  of  the  erection  of  a  free  royal 
burgh  is  set  forth  in  the  Stornoway  case  in  1628.  The 
attention  of  the  Convention  of  Royal  Burghs  of  that  year  was 
directed  to  the  fact  that  the  King,  at  the  instigation  of  the 
Earl  of  Seyfort,  had  granted  his  sign  manual  to  the  erection 
of  Stornoway  as  "  ane  frie  brugh  royall."  The  Convention 
resolved  to  petition  his  Majesty  to  cancel  the  charter,  on  this 
ground  among  others  : — "  The  said  burgh  of  Stronway  can 
not  be  erected  an  frie  brugh  royall  efter  the  maner  conteynit 
in  the  signature  thairof,  becaus  it  is  against  the  daylie  prac- 
tique  and  lawis  of  this  cuntrey,  quhairby  thair  aucht  to  be 

150  History  of  Sanquhar. 

no  burgh  royall  hot  whair  the  haill  hounds  and  lands  quher- 
vpone  the  same  is  buildit,  with  the  biggings  and  borrow 
ruids  thairof  is  of  his  Maiesties  propertie  allanerlie,  and  being 
erected  in  ane  frie  royaltie  sould  hold  of  his  Maiestie  in  frie 
burgage  ...  so  that  the  inhabitants  can  have  no  vthers 
overs  lord  or  mediat  superior  bot  his  Maiestie  allanerlie,  &c." 
The  objection  to  Stornoway  was  that  it  was  held  in  feu  from 
the  Earl  of  Seyfort,  and  we  find  that,  after  negotiation  on 
the  subject,  the  King  granted  the  petition  of  the  Convention, 
and  cancelled  the  charter  which  he  had  been  induced  to 

The  usual  form  of  charter  was  of  such  a  kind  as  to  confer 
upon  the  burgesses  or  citizens  the  exclusive  right  of  trading 
within  the  burgh,  and  (what  must  have  been  highly  prized 
in  those  times,  when  the  general  population  was  so  thoroughly 
at  the  mercy  of  the  feudal  barons)  the  right  of  criminal  juris- 
diction. A  perusal  of  the  Sanquhar  Charter  which  follows 
will  shew  how  extensive  this  jurisdiction  was,  embracing,  as 
it  did,  the  trial  of  all  offences,  even  those  of  the  gravest 
character,  and  carrying  with  it  the  power  of  inflicting  capital 
punishment.  It  can  be  readily  understood  how  highly  the 
citizens  would  regard  the  right  of  being  tried,  not  by  a  petty 
tyrant,  ignorant,  capricious,  and  cruel,  but  by  the  magistrates 
of  their  own  town.  The  fact  is,  that  these  royal  burghs  were 
fostered  and  encouraged  by  the  Scottish  sovereigns  as  a 
counterpoise  to  the  feudal  power  possessed  by  the  nobles  and 
barons,  which  was  so  great  as  to  render  them  almost,  and  at 
certain  times  altogether,  independent  of  the  crown.  It  was 
in  the  burghs,  too,  that  arts  and  manufactures  were  first 
practised,  and  exclusive  privileges  of  trading  were  conferred 
on  the  burgesses  or  citizens.  The  idea  of  citizenship  was 
derived  from  the  Roman  occupation,  and  reminds  us  of  the 
occasion  when  St.  Paul,  threatened  with  scourging,  claimed 
exemption  on  the  ground  of  his  citizenship.  "  Civis  Momanus 
sum  "  was  a  claim  which  no  outside  authority  dared  to  dis- 
regard or  treat  otherwise  than  with  the  highest  respect.  In 

History  of  Sanquhar.  151 

addition  to  the  vatuable  local  privileges  and  immunities 
enjoyed  by  royal  burghs,  they  also,  from  a  very  early  time, 
were  possessed  of  political  rights,  through  their  representa- 
tion in  the  Scottish  Parliament.  This  representation  is 
mentioned  for  the  first  time  in  the  Parliament  of  King 
Robert  the  Bruce,  held  at  Cambuskenneth  in  1326.  There 
is  reason  to  believe,  however,  that  they  may  have  been 
present  at  the  Parliaments  of  1314  and  1315,  and  1318,  and 
certainly  some  of  the  burghs  were  parties  to  the  treaty  with 
France  in  1295. 

The  Royal  Burghs  in  Scotland  in  early  times  entered  into 
combinations  for  mutual  advice  and  support,  one  of  these, 
known  as  the  House,  comprising  the  burghs  north  of  the 
Grampians  ;  those  in  the  south  being  presided  over  by  the 
Great  Chamberlain  of  the  kingdom.  This  association  in- 
cluded at  first  only  Edinburgh,  Stirling,  Berwick,  and 
Roxburgh,  the  place  of  the  two  last-named,  which  had 
fallen  into  the  hands  of  the  English,  being  taken,  in  1368, 
by  Lanark  and  Linlithgow.  The  four  burghs  met  annually 
for  the  purpose  of  disposing  of  appeals  from  judgments  of 
the  Great  Chamberlain  in  his  circuit.  In  1405  their  con- 
stitution was  extended  to  include  two  or  three  burgesses  of 
each  Royal  Burgh  on  the  south  of  the  river  Spey  "  to  corn- 
pear  yearly  at  their  convention,  wheresoever  held,  to  treat, 
ordain,  and  determine  upon  all  things  concerning  the  utility 
of  the  common  weal  of  all  the  King's  burghs,  their  liberties 
and  court."  Edinburgh  was  then  the  place  of  annual  meet- 
ing, and  James  I.  ordained,  with  consent  of  the  Three  Estates 
of  his  realm,  that  it  should  continue  thenceforward  to  be  so, 
and  this  ordinance  was  confirmed  by  James  II.  in  1454.  An 
Act  of  the  Scottish  Parliament,  held  at  Edinburgh  in  1487, 
enacted  that  "  yearly  in  time  to  come  commissioners  of  all 
burghs,  both  south  and  north,  should  convene  and  gather 
together  in  the  burgh  of  Inverkeithing,  on  the  morning  after 
St.  James's  day  (25th  July),"  each  burgh  failing  to  send  a 
commissioner  being  subjected  to  a  fine  of  £5,  to  be  applied 

152  History  of  Sa  nquha  r. 

to  the  expenses  of  the  Convention.  For  some  reason  or  other 
this  enactment  seems,  for  a  time,  to  have  been  disregarded, 
for,  so  late  as  1500,  these  assemblies,  still  meeting  in  Edin- 
burgh, retained  the  designation  of  "the  Parliament  of  the 
Four  Burghs,"  and  continued  to  be  presided  over  by  the 
Lord  Chamberlain.  However,  the  minute  of  1529,  and  all 
subsequent  minutes,  refer  to  the  acts  set  forth  in  them  as 
having  been  passed  by  the  Commissioners  of  the  Burghs 
alone,  and  make  no  mention  of  the  Lord  Chamberlain.  To 
ensure  attendance,  the  fine  to  be  exacted  from  burghs 
which  did  not  appear  by  their  commissioners  was  raised 
by  an  Act  of  Convention  in  1555  to  £10.  The  meetings  of 
Convention  appear  to  have  been  very  irregular,  due,  probably, 
to  the  unsettled  condition  of  the  country,  and  also  to  neglect 
on  the  part  of  the  burgh  in  which  the  Convention  was  to  be 
held  to  despatch  the  notices  of  meeting  to  the  other  burghs. 
That  this  latter  was,  in  several  instances,  the  cause  of 
irregularity,  is  clear  from  the  fact  that  an  appointment  to 
hold  a  Convention  in  St.  Andrew's  in  1570  is  accompanied 
by  the  threat  that  "  gif  thai  failze,  thar  sail  nocht  be  ony 
convention  appoyntit  to  be  in  thair  toun  at  ony  tyme  heir- 
efter,  becaus  thair  was  syndrie  conventions  appoyntit  to  be 
in  the  said  toun  abefoir,  and  nocht  keipit  in  thair  defalt." 
In  1578,  the  burghs  were  authorised  by  an  Act  of  Parliament 
of  James  VI.  held  at  Stirling,  "  to  convene  four  times  a  year 
in  such  burgh  as  might  be  most  convenient  to  the  rest, 
whereat  each  burgh  should  be  represented  by  one  commis- 
sioner, except  the  town  of  Edinburgh,  which  should  have 
two."  The  burghs  continued,  however,  as  hitherto  to  meet 
at  such  times  and  places  as  they  thought  fit,  determined 
frequently  with  reference  to  the  meetings  of  Parliament,  of 
which  the  representatives  of  the  burghs  formed  a  constituent 

The  Act  of  1581,  c.  26,  ratified  and  approved  the  former 
Acts  of  Parliament,  relative  to  the  Convention  of  Burghs, 
and  likewise  confirmed  the  increase  of  the  penalty  for  non- 

History  of  Sanqvliar.  153 

appearance  at  the  Convention  to  £20,  to  which  sum  it  had 
been  raised  by  an  Act  of  the  Convention  held  in  1579,  and 
which  fine  was  imposed  on  absentees  from  the  Convention 
held  at  Aberdeen  in  the  following  year.  This  Act  of  1581  is 
still  in  observance,  excepting  with  regard  to  the  recovery  of 
penalties,  proceedings  being  now  taken  at  the  instance  of 
the  agent  of  the  Convention,  in  place  of  the  letters  of  horn- 
ing at  the  instance  of  the  burgh  of  Edinburgh.  During  the 
greater  part  of  the  seventeenth  century,  the  Convention  had 
no  particular  place  of  meeting,  sederuuts  having  been  held 
during  that  period  in  most  of  the  principal  towns — viz.,  Edin- 
burgh, Glasgow,  Perth,  Dundee,  Aberdeen,  Stirling,  Cupar, 
Haddington,  Queensferry,  Jedburgh,  Culross,  Ayr,  and 
Dunbar.  Since  1704,  Edinburgh  has  invariably  been  the 
meeting-place  of  the  Convention. 

It  was  the  function  of  the  ancient  Parliament  of  the  Four 
Burghs,  the  proto-type  of  the  more  modern  Convention,  to 
decide  questions  involving  the  usages  of  the  burghs,  and  the 
rights  arid  privileges  of  the  burgesses,  and  it  even  legislated 
in  regard  to  such  matters  as  the  principles  of  moveable 
succession.  An  instance  of  this  is  to  be  found  in  the 
proceedings  of  a  Parliament  of  Edward  I.  in  1292,  where,  in 
a  private  suit  depending  on  the  law  and  practice  of  the 
Burghs  of  Scotland,  the  Four  Burghs  were  consulted,  and 
judgment  was  pronounced  in  conformity  with  their  record 
and  verdict.  Further,  as  has  already  been  mentioned,  they 
were  in  use  to  determine  appeals  from  the  judgment  of  the 
Great  Chamberlain  of  the  kingdom.  The  Court  of  the  Four 
Burghs  held  at  Stirling,  in  1405,  also  enacted  a  series  of 
regulations  of  a  general  character,  affecting  the  rights, 
duties,  and  privileges  of  the  burgesses.  As  it  is  put  in  the 
quaint  language  of  the  time,  they  met  "  to  commune  and 
trete  apoun  the  welefare  of  merchandes,  the  glide  rewle  and 
statutis  for  the  commoun  proffit  of  burrowis,  and  to  provide  for 
remede  apoun  the  scaith  and  injuris  sustenet  within  burrowis;" 
or,  in  the  more  modern  language  of  Sir  Jamps  Marwick 


154  History  of  Sanquhar. 

in  his  preface  to  the  "  Records  of  the  Convention  of  Royal 
Burghs  of  Scotland,"  it  defined  the  rights,  privileges,  and 
duties  of  burghs;  it  regulated  the  merchandise,  manufactures, 
and  shipping  of  the  country;  it  exercised  control  over  the 
Scottish  merchants  in  France,  Flanders,  and  other  countries 
in  Europe,  with  which  from  time  to  time  commercial  rela- 
tions existed  ;  it  sent  commissioners  to  foreign  powers  and 
to  great  commercial  communities,  entered  into  treaties  with 
them,  and  established  the  staple  trade  of  Scotland,  wherever 
this  could  be  most  advantageously  done  ;  it  claimed  the  right, 
independently  of  the  Crown,  to  nominate  the  Conservator, 
and  it  certainly  did  regulate  his  emoluments  and  control  his 
conduct  ;  it  sometimes  defrayed,  and  sometimes  contributed 
towards,  the  expenses  of  ambassadors  from  the  Scottish  Court 
to  that  of  France  and  other  foreign  powers  in  matters  affecting 
the  Burghs  and  the  common  weal  ;  it  allocated  among  the 
whole  Burghs  of  the  kingdom  their  proportions  of  all  extents 
and  taxes  granted  by  the  Three  Estates  of  the  realm  ;  it 
adjudicated  upon  the  claims  of  burghs  to  be  admitted  to  the 
privilege  of  free  Burghs,  and  to  be  added  to  its  roll ;  it  took 
cognisance  of  weights  and  measures  ;  it  submitted  proposi- 
tions to  Parliament  in  regard  to  all  matters  affecting  the 
interests  of  the  country,  and  influenced  to  an  incalculable 
extent  the  national  legislation.  In  a  word,  it  formed  a 
complete  and  powerful  organisation  for  the  protection  of 
burghal  rights  and  privileges,  and  for  the  promotion  of  what- 
ever the  Burghs  conceived  to  be  for  their  own  interest  and 
that  of  the  country  generally." 

The  foregoing  summary  of  the  history  and  functions  of  the 
Convention  of  Royal  Burghs  covers  a  period  anterior  to  the 
creation  of  Sanquhar  as  a  Royal  Burgh.  Although,  there- 
fore, it  has  no  direct  relation  to  the  history  of  Sanquhar  in 
particular,  yet  it  has  been  thought  well  to  give  the  reader 
an  idea,  however  imperfect,  of  the  place  occupied  by  the 
burghs  in  Scotland  in  the  body  politic,  and  the  part  which 
they  played  in  our  national  history,  and  of  the  functions  dis- 

History  of  Sanquhar.  155 

charged  by  the  Convention  prior  to  the  time  when  the  burgh 
of  Sanquhar  was  admitted  within  the  sacred  circle. 

The  Convention  had  ever  been  a  thoroughly  loyal  body, 
and  it  seems,  even  in  the  most  troubled  times,  to  have  suc- 
ceeded in  maintaining  good  relations  with  the  crown  and  the 
government.  In  1660,  on  the  representation  of  the  Lord 
Chancellor  (Glencairne),  it  passed  a  resolution  debarring  any 
person  guilty  of  disloyalty  to  his  Majesty's  government,  or 
who  had  deserted  any  charge  in  his  Majesty's  armies,  from 
being  admitted  to  any  place  of  "  magistracie,  counsall,  or 
office  of  deaconrie  within  burgh." 

The  Charter  erectiig  Sanquhar  into  a  Royal  Burgh  was 
granted  by  James  VI.  in  1598,  and  we  find  that  steps  were 
taken  without  delay  to  have  its  name  enrolled  in  the  Con- 
vention of  "Royal  Burghs  of  Scotland.  It  will  be  observed 
that  in  the  royal  charter  Sanquhar  is  described  as  being 
at  that  time  "  anciently  a  free  burgh  of  barony."  The  Deed 
relating  to  its  creation  as  a  burgh  of  barony  is  of  date  1484, 
but  that  was  a  re-erection.  The  standing  of  Sanquhar  as  a 
burgh  is  even  more  ancient  than  that,  but  the  precise  date 
cannot  be  fixed. 


James,  by  the  grace  of  God,  King  of  the  Scots,  to  the  Sheriff  of  Dumf  reis, 
and  his  substitutes,  also  to  my  lovites  ....... 

and  each  of  them  conjunctly  and  separately,  my  Sheriffs  of  Dumfreis  in 
that  part,  greeting,  because  we,  understanding  the  burgh  of  Sanquhar, 
lying  within  the  Sheriffdom  of  Dumfries,  anciently  a  free  bnrgh  of  barony, 
to  have  been  endowed  and  infeft  by  us  and  our  noble  predecessors,  with 
all  liberties,  privileges,  and  immunities  whatsoever  belonging  to  a  free 
burgh  of  barony  within  this  kingdom  ;  also  recalling  to  memory  the  good, 
faithful,  and  gratuitous  service  done  and  performed  constantly,  in  all 
times  past,  to  us  and  our  predecessors  by  the  burgesses  and  inhabitants  of 
the  said  burgh,  according  to  their  power  and  ability,  and  because  our 
beloved  cousin  Robert,  Lord  Crichton  of  Sanquhar,  by  this  special  deed 
subscribed  with  his  own  hand,  dated  the  14th  day  of  the  mouth  of  Decem- 
ber, in  the  year  of  our  Lord,  1596,  lias  agreed  that  the  said  burgh  of 
Sanquhar  (which  formerly  had  been  a  free  burgh  of  barony)  be  now,  and 
in  all  times  to  come,  erected  and  created  a  free  Royal  Burgh,  with  all  the 
other  immunities  and  privileges  which  it  shall  please  us  to  grant  to  the 

156  History  of  Sanquhar. 

same,  we  therefore,  in  order  to  place  hi  a  better  situation  the  burgesses 
and  inhabitants  of  the  foresaid  burgh,  that  they  may  continue  their  faith- 
ful service  and  wonted  obedience  in  time  to  come,  also  for  the  construction 
and  building  of  houses  and  establishing  police  within  the  said  burgh,  and 
for  the  accommodation  of  our  lieges  repairing  there  and  establishing  inns, 
have  made,  created,  and  erected,  and  by  the  tenor  of  these  presents,  do 
make,  create,  and  erect  the  said  burgh  of  Sanquhar,  with  the  lands  and 
others  belonging  to  the  same,  into  one  free  Royal  Burgh,  to  be  held  of  us 
and  our  successors,  and  also  we  have  given,  granted,  and  disponed,  and  by 
the  tenor  of  these  presents,  do  give,  grant,  and  dispone  to  the  provost, 
bailies,  councillors,  community,  and  inhabitants  of  our  foresaid  burgh  of 
Sanquhar,  and  their  successors  for  ever,  heritably  All  and  Whole  the  same 
burgh  of  Sanqiihar,  together  with  all  lands,  tenements,  annual  rents,  mills, 
mill  lands,  multures,  woods,  fishings,  coals,  coal-heughs,  muirs,  marshes, 
rocks,  mountains,  commonty  and  others,  whatsoever  belonging  to  the 
before-named  burgh  and  liberty  of  the  same,  with  the  bridge  of  the  said 
burgh,  and  with  the  customs,  liberties,  privileges,  and  immunities  pertain- 
ing to  any  other  of  our  free  Royal  Burghs  within  the  kingdom,  and  granted 
in  any  time  past  preceding  the  date  of  these  presents,  and  with  full,  free, 
and  express  power  to  the  aforesaid  provost,  bailies,  councillors,  community, 
and  inhabitants  of  the  said  burgh,  and  their  successors,  of  building 
water-mills  and  wind-mills,  one  or  more  upon  any  part  within  the 
bounds  of  the  foresaid  burgh,  and  lands  belonging  to  the  same,  where 
it  shall  seem  most  proper  to  them,  and  of  having  in  the  said  burgh 
one  chief  prison,  with  a  market-place  and  market-cross,  with  throne  and 
throne-weights ;  also,  of  having  in  the  same  two  weekly  market  days  in 
every  week,  viz.,  Wednesday  and  the  Sabbath  day,  and  annually  in  every 
year  three  fairs,  to  wit,  one  of  them  annually  at  the  feast  of  St.  Felix, 
being  the  second  last  day  of  May  ;  another  of^them  at  the  feast  of  Mary 
Magdalene,  being  the  twenty-second  of  the  month  of  July  ;  and  the  third 
of  them  annually  at  the  feast  of  St.  Luke  the  Evangelist,  being  the  eighth 
day  of  the  month  of  October  annually,  and  of  keeping,  and  continuing 
each  of  the  said  fairs  for  the  space  of  eight  days,  during  these  eight  days, 
with  all  liberties,  customs,  tolls,  and  profits  belonging  and  pertaining  to 
the  foresaid  markets  and  fairs  ;  and  with  power,  privilege,  and  liberty, 
within  our  said  burgh  of  creating  and  constituting  free  burgesses  ;  also  to 
the  foresaid  burgesses  and  inhabitants  in  the  said  burgh  of  electing  and 
creating  annually,  once  in  the  year,  or  as  often  as  need  shall  be,  two, 
three,  or  more  bailies,  a  treasurer,  dean  of  guild,  common  clerk,  and  other 
officers  necessary  for  the  administration  of  justice  within  our  said  burgh, 
and  in  the  same  to  loiss  laid  packet  peill  all  goods  of  staple  and  other  free 
merchandise,  and  of  sailing  to  any  free  ports  with  the  same,  in  the  same 
manner,  and  as  freely,  in  all  respects,  as  any  other  free  burgess  or  free 
burgesses  within  any  other  free  royal  burgh  within  this  our  realm,  and  with 
power  to  the  foresaid  provost  and  baillies  of  the  foresaid  burgh,  in  all  time 

History  of  Sanquhar.  157 

to  come,  of  receiving  resignations,  of  proclaiming  and  serving  the  brieves 
of  our  Chancery,  and  of  granting  infeftments  upon  the  lands,  tenetnen  ts, 
and  annual  rents  lying  within  our  said  burgh,  and  liberty  of  the  same  : 
Also,  of  framing  acts  and  statutes  for  the  regulation  of  the  same,  of 
fencing,  holding,  and  continuing  a  court  and  courts,  as  often  as  need  shall 
be,  of  levying  the  sentences,  fines,  bloodwitts,  and  escheats  of  the  said 
courts,  and  applying  the  same  to  the  common  good  of  the  said  burgh,  and, 
if  it  shall  be  necessary,  of  seizing  and  distraining  for  the  same,  of  taking, 
apprehending,  attaching,  arresting  transgressors  and  offenders,  and  of 
punishing  with  death  those  legally  convicted  according  to  ou>  law,  with 
gallows,  pit,  sok,  sak,  thole,  theme,  infangthieff,  outfangthieff,  pit  and 
gallows,  with  all  other  and  singular  liberties,  privileges,  and  immunities 
belonging  to  any  other  free  Royal  Burgh  within  this  our  kingdom,  as  in 
our  charter  made  thereupon  is  more  fully  contained  ;  we  charge  and  order 
you  that  you  cause  sasineto  be  justly  given  to  the  foresaid  provost,  baillies, 
counsellors,  and  community,  or  their  certain  attornies,  bearers  thereof,  of 
all  and  whole  the  foresaid  burgh  of  Sanquhar  and  others,  above  recited, 
according  to  the  form  of  our  aforesaid  charter,  which  they  hold  from  us, 
and  without  delay ;  and  this  you  in  no  ways  omitt,  for  doing  which  we 
committ  power  to  you,  and  each  of  you,*conjunctly  and  severally,  our 
Sheriffs  of  Dumfreis  in  that  part.  Given  under  the  testimony  of  our  great 
seal  at  Falkland,  the  18th  day  of  the  month  of  August,  1598,  and  of  our 
reign  the  thirty -second  year. 

Upon  this  precept  infeftment  was  taken  the  2nd  day  of 
October,  1598. 

In  the  latter  portion  of  the  charter,  which  deals  with 
matters  connected  with  criminal  jurisdiction,  very  extensive 
powers  are  conferred,  it  will  be  observed,  on  the  magistrates, 
in  terms  of  modern  phraseology,  but  there  follow  others, 
which  are  now  obsolete  and  scarcely  understood.  They  are 
"  sok,  sak,  thole,  theme,  infangthieff,  outfangthieff."  The 
following  is  a  brief  explanation  of  their  meaning.  These 
are  terms  regularly  used  for  hundreds  of  years  previous  to 
the  date  of  the  Sanquhar  charter.  So  far  back  as  1182, 
Cosmo  Inues  informs  us,  the  powers  conveyed  by  them  were 
conferred  by  William  the  Lion  on  the  Monks  of  Arbroath  ; 
and  they  became  part  of  the  regular  phraseology  of  burgh 
charters  in  later  times.  We  quote  from  the  above  writer, 
who  was  a  high  authority  on  such  questions.  "  Sac  is  the 
abbreviation  of  Sacu,  and  means  the  jurisdiction  or  right  of 

158  History  of  Sanquhar. 

judging  litigious  suits.  Soc  strictly  denotes  the  district 
included  within  such  a  jurisdiction  ;  and  Socen,  from  which 
it  is  derived,  means  the  right  of  investigating — cognate  to 
the  word  seek."  Soc  and  Sac  are  spelt  Sok  and  Sak  in  the 
Sanquhar  charter,  but  they  are  manifestly  the  same  words. 

Thol  or  Thole  has  sometimes  been  supposed  to  mean 
exemption  from  toll  or  custom,  and  that  was  one  of  the 
exemptions  of  the  Arbroath  monks  ;  but  Innes  prefers  the 
interpretation  which  makes  thol — the  definite  technical 
privilege — the  right  of  exacting  the  duty  rather  than  the 
right  of  refusing  to  pay  it.  "  In  this  way,"  he  says,  "  I  hold 
it  to  mean,  and  to  grant  to  the  holder  of  the  charter  the 
right  to  exact  custom  or  customary  payment  for  goods  passing 
through  his  land."  We  think  he  is  right  in  so  interpreting 
it,  in  the  case  of  burgh  charters  at  least,  and  that  here 
we  have  the  origin  of  those  petty  customs  .which  it  was  the 
right,  down  to  a  very  recen.t,date,  of  all  royal  burghs  to  exact. 

Them  or  Theme  is  explained  as  warranty,  a  word  which 
has  a  very  great  variety  of  meanings  in  connection  with 
jurisdictions  and  forms  of  process  of  old.  It  indicates  a 
system  of  pledge  or  warranty,  as  applied  to  the  recovery  of 
stolen  goods. 

Infang-thieff  or  thef  is  a  word  expressing  the  right  to 
judge  and  punish  a  thief  caught  "  with  the  fang"  within  the 
charter-holder's  jurisdiction. 

Outfang-thieff  or  thef  gave  the  same  power  over  a  thief 
caught  beyond  the  jurisdiction  of  the  lord,  he  being  followed 
and  caught  with  the  fang.  Such  a  grant  gave  the  holder  of 
the  charter  a  right  to  the  amercements,  the  escheats,  all  the 
goods  and  chattels  which  the  thief  could  forfeit;  hence  it 
was  that  these  rights  of  baronial  jurisdiction  were  so  much 

The  two  first  words,  Gallows  and  Pit,  in  the  enumeration 
of  the  powers  and  rights  conferred  by  the  charter  are 
sufficiently  well  understood,  and  are  referred  to  elsewhere  as 
the  form  of  inflicting  capital  punishment — the  gallows  or 

History  of  Fanquhar.  159 

hanging  for  male,  and  the  pit  or  drowning  for  female 

Other  writers,  it  may  be  noted,  attach  different  meanings 
to  one  or  two  of  these  old  words,  but  Innes,  whom  we  have 
followed,  is,  as  has  been  already  stated,  one  of  the  highest 
authorities  on  questions  of  this  kind. 

Though  it  bears  a  much  later  date,  there  follows  here  for 
the  sake  of  connection  a  copy  of  the  Sett  or  Constitution  of 
the  burgh. 


"  In  the  Generall  Convention  of  the  Royal  Burrows,  holden  at  the  Burgli 
of  Edinburgh,  upon  the  fifteen  day  of  July,  one  thousand  seven  hundred 
and  eight  years,  by  the  commissioners  therein  convened. 

"The  which  day  the  Convention  finding  by  experience  that  nothing 
doth  creat  more  trouble  to  them  than  irregularities  and  abuses  com- 
mitted by  particular  burghs  in  electing  their  Magistrates  and  touu 
counsell  contrare  to  their  sett  and  ancient  constitution :  Therefore, 
the  Convention,  to  obviat  this  inconvenience  in  time  comeing,  statut 
and  appoint  that  each  royall  burgh  within  this  kingdom  send  up  their 
sett  to  the  clerks  of  the  burrows  to  be  recorded  in  a  particular  book 
to  be  keeped  for  that  purpose,  to  the  end  that  any  question  about  their 
res'cive  setts  may  be  quickly  discust  upon  producing  the  said  book,  and 
that  betwixt  and  the  next  convention,  certifying  such  as  shall  faill  herein, 
they  shall  be  fined  by  the  next  annual  convention  in  the  sum  of  Two 
hundred  pounds  Scots  money,"  and  the  sett  of  the  royal  burgh  of  Sanquhar 
is  of  the  following  tenor : — "  Set  of  the  burgh  of  Sanquhar,  made  by 
recommendation  in  the  sixth  act  Gn'al  Convention,  1713 — Whereas,  the 
last  general  convention  having  recommended  to  the  commissioners  of  the 
burghs  of  Dumfrice,  Kirkcudbright,  Annan,  and  Lochmaben,  to  ascertain 
a  set  for  the  burgh  of  Sanquhar,  and  we  having,  conform  to  that  recom- 
mendation, considered  duly  the  chartours  and  custom  of  the  said  burgh  : 
wee  are  of  opinion  that  for  all  time  hereafter  their  set  should  be  that  they 
shall  have  a  provost,  three  bailies,  dean  of  gild,  and  treasurer,  witli  eleven 
councilors,  making  in  all  seventeen,  and  that  these  shall  bs  of  heretors, 
merchants,  or  tradesmen,  burgesses,  residenters  within  the  said  burgh  ; 
and  that  these,  nor  any  of  them,  shall  continue  longer  than  one  year, 
unless  they  be  choiced  again,  and  at  least  that  there  be  four  new  councilors 
yearly,  and  that  the  old  council  shall  still  choice  the  new  annually  at 
Michalmass,  if  it  fall  on  a  Munday,  if  otherways,  then  the  first  Munday 
after  Michalmass.  In  witness  whereof,  we  and  the  provost  of  the  said 
burgh  of  Sanquhar,  have  subscribed  these  presents  at  Edinburgh,  the  ninth 
day  of  July,  one  thousand,  seven  hundred  and  fourteen  years — Sic  sub- 

160  History  of  Sanquhar. 

scribilur,  John  Corsbic,  for  Dumfrice  ;  Wm.  Johnston,  for  Annan ;  John 
Kirkpatrick,  for  Kirkudbright ;  Geo.  Kennedy,  Lochmaben ;  Ab. 
Crichton,  provost  of  Sanquhar. " 

The  following  is  extracted  from  the  Minutes  of  the  Con- 
vention of  1600,  when  Sanquhar  was  enrolled  among  the 
Royal  Burghs  of  Scotland  :— 

BURGHS,  1600. 

Extract  from  Minute  of  Meeting  of  General  Convention  of  the  Royal  Burghs 
of  Scotland,  holden  at  Kinrjhorn,  the  thirteenth  and  subsequent  days  of 
June,  1600.  Decimo  sexto  Janii,  1600. 

"  The  samyn  day,  comperit  Jhone  Creychtouu  and  Robert  Phillop, 
induellaris  in  the  toun  of  Sanquhar,  and  gawe  in  thair  supplicatioun 
desyring  the  said  toun  to  be  inrollit  and  admitit  in  the  societie  and 
number  of  fre  burrows  as  aue  brugh  regall,  and  offerit  thair  concurrence 
in  all  thingis  with  the  rest  of  the  burrowis  and  obedience  to  the  lawis 
thairof,  and  producit  the  erectioun  of  thair  said  toun  be  our  souerane  lord 
in  ane  brugh  regall,  to  be  holdin  of  our  souerane  lord  and  his  successouris 
iu  fre  burgage,  for  payment  of  fyve  pundis  of  borrow  male,  as  at  mair 
lenthe  is  contenit  in  the  said  erectioun  vnder  his  maiesteis  Grit  Seill,  daitit 
at  Falkland  the  xviij  day  of  August  1598,  quhilk  being  red  in  oppin 
awdience  of  the  saidis  Commissioneris  and  considerit  be  thame,  thay  be 
thir  presentis  INROLLIS  and  ADMITTIS  the  said  touu  of  Sanquhar  in 
ane  fre  brugh  regall,  nvmber  and  societie  thairof,  conforme  to  his  maiesties 
erectioun,  and  ordanis  the  saidis  persouns  to  caus  thair  said  brugh  send 
thair  commissioneris  sufficientle  instrucit  to  the  next  conventioun  general), 
with  speciall  powir  to  ratefy  and  approve  the  lawis  and  constitutiouus  of 
the  conventioun  of  burrowis,  with  thair  promeis  to  fulfill  and  obey  the 
samyn,  beir  burding  with  the  burrowis  in  all  thair  commoun  effairis, 
concur,  fortefe,  and  assist  them  in  manteyneing  the  liberte  and  preueledgeis 
of  fre  burrowis  according  to  thair  powir,  and  to  keep  thair  conventioun 
generall  and  particular  as  thai  salbe  warnet  thairto,  and  this  to  be  ane  heid 
of  the  next  missiue  :  quhairof  thai  ordane  ane  copy  thairoff  to  be  send  to 
the  said  brugh  for  keiping  and  holding  the  said  conventioun  generall,  and 
Rodger  Maknacht  become  sourety  for  the  said  John  Creychtoun  and  Robert 
Phillop  that  thai  sail  reporte  to  the  nixt  conventioun  generall  the  consent 
of  the  said  brugh  to  the  premessis,  and  of  thair  suite  to  their  inrollment, 
vnder  the  pane  of  xx  li." 

While  valuable  privileges  were  conferred  upon  the  burghs 
they,  at  the  same  time,  had  certain  burdens  laid  upon  them 
for  various  public  purposes.  We  find  that,  on  emergency,  the 

Histo ry  of  Sanquhai :  161 

King  looked  to  them  for  necessary  materials  in  time  of  war  ; 
for,  on  one  occasion,  the  Convention  made  arrangements  for 
supplying  soap  and  candles  to  the  King's  troops.  Contribu- 
tions were  also  made,  on  important  occasions,  for  the  main- 
tenance of  the  dignity  of  the  Crown,  and  the  expenses  of  the 
royal  household  after  the  manner  of  a  Parliamentary  vote 
of  the  present  day.  For  example,  the  sum  of  £20,000  Scots 
was  allowed  to  James  V.  in  1535,  on  his  visit  to  France, 
"  for  sustaining  his  honourable  expenses  in  the  parts  of 
France;"  and  in  1557  £10,000  was  granted  towards  the 
expenses  of  Queen  Mary's  marriage  with  the  Dauphin  of 
France.  (J rants,  too,  were  made  towards  the  expenses  of 
ambassadors  sent  abroad  on  important  diplomatic  missions. 
All  this  conveys  an  impression  of  the  dignity  and  power  of 
the  burghs,  and  the  important  services  which  they  rendered 
as  a  set  off  to  the  favours  bestowed  upon  them  by  the  Crown. 
For  the  purpose  of  allocating  these  burdens,  the  Convention 
framed  what  would  in  our  day  be  called  a  valuation  roll,  but 
was  then  styled  the  "  Taxt  Roll,"  which  contained  the  names 
of  all  the  burghs  which  had  been  duly  "  iurollit,"  with  the 
proportion  of  any  charge  which  each  should  bear,  taking 
£100  as  the  unit.  In  the  year  1601,  therefore,  we  find  that 
at  the  Convention  held  at  Sanctandrois  (St.  Andrews)  the 
following  minute  was  passed  relative  to  the  sum  at  which 
Sanquhar  should  be  assessed  on  the  extent  roll  : — "  The 
samyn  day,  in  consideration!!  that  the  brugh  of  Sanquhar  is 
inrollit  in  the  nvmber  of  fre  burrowis  and  as  zit  nocht  put 
in  the  extent  roll,  theirfor  thai  haue  thocht  guid  to  set  and 
extent  the  said  brugh  to  the  soume  of  thre  schillingis  foure 
pennies  of  ilk  hundrethe  pundis  of  the  soumes  quhairin  the 
remanent  burrowis  salbe  extentit  heirefter,  and  this  to  indure 
quhill  the  nixt  alteratioun  of  the  taxt  rollis." 

There  was  a  re-adjustment  from  time  to  time  of  this  taxt- 
roll.  These  changes  were  due,  of  course,  to  the  discovery  of 
hitherto  unknown  natural  resources,  to  the  establishment  of 
new  industries,  with  the  consequent  increase  of  population 


162  History  of  Sanquitar. 

and  of  the  volume  of  trade,  and,  in  those  rude  and  unsettled 
times,  to  the  fortunes  of  war.  It  is  interesting  to  note  how 
comparatively  unimportant  then  were  certain  towns,  which 
have  since  risen  to  the  position  of  principal  cities  in  the 
kingdom,  while  many  have  remained  almost  stagnant,  and 
some  have  shrunk  into  comparative  obscurity.  Glasgow  is 
the  most  notable  example  of  the  first-mentioned  class,  for  in 
a  re-adjustment  of  the  taxt-roll  made  in  1670,  on  the  report 
of  a  committee  which  had  made  "  exact  tryell  of  the  trade, 
comon  good,  and  floorishing  estate  of  severall  burghis, 
impartiallie,"  that  town  was  taxed  at  £12  for  every  £100  of 
assessment,  while  Edinburgh  stood  at  £33  6s  8d,  Aberdeen 
at  £7,  and  Dundee  at  £6  2s.  On  the  other  hand,  Kirkcaldy's 
share  was  fixed  at  £2  6s,  and  St.  Andrews  at  £2  6s  4d.  Were 
a  valuation  on  the  same  principle  made  now,  what  a  complete 
revolution  there  would  be  ! 

The  Convention,  as  a  rule,  was  very  exacting  in  the  attend- 
ance of  every  burgh  at  its  meetings,  and  we  are  sorry  to 
observe  that  in  1601,  the  very  first  year  after  its  admission, 
Sanquhar  offended  against  the  law  in  this  regard,  and  was 
adjudged  to  pay  "  ane  vnlaw  of  tuentie  pundis  for  nocht 
compearance  to  this  present  conventioun,  being  lauchfulle 
warnet  be  the  generall  missiue  to  have  comperit  and  com- 
perit  nocht." 

The  "  unlavv  "  or  penalty  of  twenty  pounds  Scots  for  non- 
compearance  was  in  1665  raised  to  the  sum  of  "one  hundreth 
punds  Scots,  because  the  Commissioners  found  that  the 
greater  part  of  the  burghs  absented  themselves  of  purpose,'' 
preferring  to  pay  the  fine  rather  than  incur  the  expense  of 
attending  the  Convention.  This  can  be  well  understood  con- 
sidering the  difficulty  of  communication  at  a  time  when  there 
were  scarcely  any  roads  except  mere  bridle-paths.  However, 
the  stringency  of  this  rule  of  regular  attendance  was  relaxed 
on  good  cause  shewn,  such  as  the  distance  of  the  burgh  from 
the  place  of  meeting,  or  its  temporary  poverty,  and  so  the 
Convention  was  in  the  habit,  on  application  made,  of  grant- 

History  of  Sanqii h ar.  163 

ing  dispensation  to  burghs  so  situated.  In  1689  a  dispen- 
sation of  this  kind  was  granted  to  Sanquhar,  which  was 
exempted  from  sending  a  commissioner  to  conventions  for 
three  years,  "in  respect  of  the  poverty  of  that  burgh,  and 
that  they  live  at  a  great  distance." 

The  burghs  were  held  strictly  bound  to  see  that  the  privi- 
leges of  burgesses  were  not  granted  to  any  except  such 
persons  as  resided  within  the  bounds  of  the  royalty.  Upon 
the  rigid  maintenance  of  this  rule  the  whole  svstem  mani- 

O  <j 

festly  depended  for  its  characteristic  exclusiveness.  While, 
therefore,  it  was  the  interest  of  every  burgh  that  this  rule 
should  be  enforced,  there  was  a  distinct  temptation  on  the 
part  of  the  smaller,  poorer,  and  less  populous  burghs  to 
depart  from  the  rule,  and  admit  persons  outwith  the  bounds 
for  the  sake  of  the  fees  which  were  exacted  for  admission. 
Sanquhar  had,  if  we  are  to  believe  the  allegations  made  by 
Dumfries,  yielded  to  the  temptation,  and,  in  consequence,  a 
complaint  was  lodged  by  the  latter  to  the  Convention  of 
1621,  setting  forth  that  the  burgh  of  Sanquhar  was  guilty  of 
"  admitting  day  lie,  burgessis  sic  as  wobsters,  cordineris, 
wakers,  and  vtheris  of  the  lyik  tred  and  occupatioun,  duell- 
ing outwith  thair  burgh,  and  in  taking  of  ane  littill  soume  of 
money  for  the  samin,  to  the  grit  preiudice  of  the  nixt 
adjacent  burgh  of  Dumfreis,  thairfore  thai  ordane  the  burgh 
of  Sanquhar  to  direct  thair  commissioner  to  the  nixt  generall 
conventioun  of  borrowis  sufficientlie  instructit  to  ansuer  to 
the  said  complent."  There  is  no  further  trace  in  the  records 
of  the  Convention  of  this  complaint,  nor  of  what  the  deliver- 
ance on  the  subject  was.  In  all  probability,  however, 
Dumfries  had  good  grounds  for  its  allegation  ;  at  all  events, 
in  1660,  the  Commissioners  "  approved  of  a  letter  by  the 
moderator  to  the  burgh  of  Sanquhair  discharging  them  to 
suffer  their  burgessis  to  dwell  in  unfree  places  and  exercise 
the  liberty  of  free  burghs." 

The  terms  "  unfree  trade "  and  "  unfree  traders "  occur 
frequently  in  these  records,  and  perhaps  it  is  desirable  for 

1 64  History  of  Sanquhar. 

the  sake  of  the  general  reader  to  explain  their  significance. 
The  exclusive  privilege  of  carrying  on  foreign  trade  was 
given  to  freemen  of  the  royal  burghs  of  Scotland  by  a  charter 
from  King  David,  anno  1124,  and  this  was  confirmed  by 
Parliament  in  almost  every  succeeding  reign.  In  particular, 
the  privilege  was  re-affirmed  by  the  84th  Act,  James  IV.,  in 
]  503,  all  other  persons  being  inhibited  under  high  penalties, 
and  it  was  ratified  afresh  in  1592.  The  monopoly  of  export 
enjoyed  by  the  royal  burghs  was,  however,  abolished  in  1672, 
the  right  being  extended  to  burghs  of  regality  and  burghs  of 
barony,  but  was  again  revived  in  1690,  excepting  as  regards 
such  commodities  as  noblemen  and  barons  should  import  for 
their  own  use,  and  not  for  sale,  and  the  privilege  of  retailing 
all  foreign  commodities  was  given  to  burghs  of  regality 
and  burghs  of  barony,  "  provydeing  they  buy  the  same  from 
freemen  of  royal  burrows  allenarly."  In  1693  an  Act  of 
Parliament,  entitled  "  ane  Act  for  the  communication  of 
trade,"  was  passed  confirming  an  Act  of  the  Convention  of 
Burghs,  which  communicated  the  privilege  of  trade  to  the 
"  burghs  of  regalities,  barronys,  and  others,  upon  their 
paying  or  relieving  of  the  royal  burghs  of  a  propor- 
tional part  of  the  tax-roll  imposed  upon  them  by  act  of 
parliament  corresponding  to  their  trade."  The  trading,  then, 
which  was  conducted  outside  of  burghs,  or  in  burghs  of 
regality  or  barony  which  refused  to  fulfil  the  conditions 
under  which  it  was  granted  to  them,  was  called  "  uufree 
trading,"  and  those  who  engaged  in  such  traffic  were  called 
"  unfree  traders."  The  royal  burghs  which,  in  consideration  of 
the  monopoly  of  trading  secured  to  them  by  the  charters  of 
sovereigns  and  acts  of  parliament,  were  subjected  to  certain 
burdens,  some  of  them,  such  as  the  land-tax,  perpetual,  and 
others  of  a  special  kind,  which  recurred  from  time  to  time, 
naturally  complained  to  the  Crown  and  Parliament  of  this 
unfree  trading.  There  is  no  subject  which  crops  up  more 
frequently  in  the  records  of  the  Convention  and  gave  the 
burghs  greater  concern  ;  for  the  practice  of  unfree-trading, 

History  of  Sanquhar.  165 

whenever  it  became  general,  proved  fatal  to  the  prosperity  of 
the  burgh.  As  an  example  of  this,  the  burgh  of  Sanqnhar, 
in  the  report  given  in  by  their  two  bailies  to  the  committee 
of  the  Convention,  sitting  in  Dumfries  in  1692,  attribute  the 
decayed  condition  of  their  trade  to  this  cause. 

"  The  Convention,  upon  a  petition  from  the  burgh  of 
Sanquhar,  representing  the  poverty  of  their  burgh,  and  their 
particular  case  and  condition,  had  for  long  continued  a 
head  of  the  missive,  granted  warrand  to  the  magistrats  and 
council  of  the  said  burgh  [to  pursue  the  unfree  traders  within 
the  Presbytery  of  Penpont,  and  to  compound  with  them  on 
same  terms  as  Kirk  wall  was  authorised  by  the  26th  Act]." 

The  Convention  took  upon  herself  the  care  of  all  the 
burghs.  Although  stern  and  resolute  in  compelling  a  strict 
adherence  by  all  the  burghs  to  their  constitution,  and  the 
laws  by  which  they  were  regulated,  and  quick  and  sensitive 
to  all  that  concerned  their  well-being  and  prosperity  as  a 
whole,  her  ear  was  ever  open  to  the  complaint  of  the  most 
obscure  member  of  the  family,  and  her  hand  was  often 
extended  in  relief  in  times  of  difficulty  and  distress. 

Her  solicitude  for  the  welfare  of  the  whole  is  well  illustrated 
by  the  fact  that  she  instructed  a  register  to  be  made  con- 
taining the  state  and  condition  of  every  burgh  within  the 
kingdom  of  Scotland  in  1692. 

The  following  is  a  copy  of  the  Report  upon  the  burgh  of 
Sanquhar : — 

At  Dtimfreise,  the  twentie  third  day  of  Aprill  jmvjc  and  nyntie  two 
years,  Compeired  James  Fletcher,  provost  of  Dundie,  and  Alexander 
Walker,  bailly  of  Aberdeen,  commissionars  appoynted  by  the  royall 
borrowes  for  visiting  the  wholl  burghs  royall  be  south  and  west  the  river 
of  Forth,  the  present  magistrats  of  the  burgh  of  Sauchar,  who  gave  in  ane 
accompt  of  ther  patrimonie  and  comon  good,  with  ther  answer  to  the  saides 
visitors  instructions  as  follows  :  — 

1.  First  article,  answered  that  ther  comon  good  amounts  only  to  fourteen 
pound  four  shillings  and  eight  pennies  Scots,  and  that  ther  debts  amounts 
to  two  hundreth  pound  Scots  of  principall. 

2.  As  to  the  second  article,  it  is  answered  that  they  have  110  mortifica- 

166  History  of  Sanquhar. 

3.  As  to  the  third  article,  it  is  answered  that  they  are  not  concerned 

4.  As  to  the  fourth  article,  it  is  answered  that  they  are  not  concerned 
therein,  having  no  seaport. 

5.  As  to  the  fyfth  article,  it  is  answered  that  they  have  thesauers  bookes, 
ther  comon  good  being  soe  inconsiderable,  and  that  ther  liquies  extends 
yearly  with  ther  clerks  dewes  and  other  casualities  to  fourteen  pounds. 

6.  As  to  the  sixth  article,  it  is  answered  that  they  have  no  forraigne 
trade,  and  that  ther  inland  trade  consists  only  of  some  few  sheeps  skins, 
butter  and  cheese,  and  few  merchant  goodes  from  Edinburgh,  and  that 
they  vent  no   French  wynes,  nor  seek,  but  a  little  brandie,  and  that  they 
consume  about  two  bolls  of  malt  weekly. 

7.  As  to  the  seventh  article,  it  is  answered  that  they  have  no  ships, 
barks,  or  boats  belonging  to  them. 

8.  As  to  the  eighth  article,  it  is  answered  that  they  neither  are  owners 
nor  pairtners  of  ships  belonging  either  to  burghs  royall,  of  regality  or 
barronie,  nor  are  they  concerned  in  trade  with  unfree  burghs. 

9.  As  to  the  nynth  article,  it  is  answered  that  they  pay  cess  by  a  taxa- 
tion on  ther  inhabitants  for  ther  houses  and  borrow  acres. 

10.  As  to  the  tenth  article,  it  is  answered  that  ther  minister  is  payed  out 
of  the  teynds  of  the  paroch  wherof  ther  land  payes  a  pairt  effeirand  to  ther 
teind ;    ther  schoollmaster   is   maintained    according   to   the   number   of 
schoolars  by  weekly  intertainment  from  ther  respective  parents,  besides 
twelve  pounds  yearly  of  fie  laid  on  by  stent  on  ther  lands  ;  the  rest  of  the 
publict  servants  are  payed  by  stent  on  ther  inhabitants. 

11.  As  to  the  elleaventh  article,  it  is  answered  that  all  their  publict 
works  are  maintained  by  tax  on  themselves. 

12.  As  to  the  twelth  article,  its  answered  that  the  rest  of  ther  houses 
will  be  of  rent  betwixt  fourty  and  fyfty  shillings  Scots  inclusive  ;   no 
strangers  in  their  burgh. 

13.  As  to  the  thretteenth  article,  it  is  answered  that  they  have  thrie 
yearly  fairs  of  one  dayes  containwance,  and  that  ther  customes  are  con- 
tained in  ther  comon  good  as  in  the  first  article. 

14.  As  to  the  fourteen  article,  it  is  answered  that  they  are  surrounded 
with  burghs  of  barronie  and  regality  whois  retaill  of  staple  goodes  destroyes 
totally  ther  trade.  * 

This  is  the  trew  accompt  of  the  toun  of  Sanquhar's  patrimonie  and 
comon  good  in  answer  to  the  above  written  queries  which  are  given  up, 
upon  oath,  by  the  saids  undersubscryveing  to  the  saides  visitors  day  aud 
date  forsaid.  Sic  subscribitur :  Ro.  Park,  baillie,  Alex.  Creitchtoune, 

Grants  were  frequently  made  out  of  the  funds  of  the  Con- 
vention to  individual  burghs  in  the  furtherance  of  necessary 
works  for  the  public  convenience,  and  in  the  interests  of 

History  of  Sanquhar.  167 

public  order.  Thus,  in  1682,  there  was  remitted  to  next 
General  Convention  "  petition  of  Sancquher  craveing  some 
supplie  for  repairing  of  their  bridge  and  tolbooth,  and  putting 
them  in  a  conditione  to  continue  a  member  of  the  royall 
burrows."  Nothing  appears  to  have  been  done,  and  a  petition 
in  this  altered  form  "  bearing  that  the  tolbuith,  the  cross, 
and  bridge  is  altogether  rowinous,"  was  presented  to  the 
Convention  of  1688,  when  the  Convention  remitted  to  three 
of  the  commissioners  to  visit  the  burgh  and  report.  What 
the  report  was  does  not  appear,  nor  that  any  action  was 
taken  at  that  time  ;  but,  in  1697,  eight  years  later,  "  the 
Convention,  having  considered  the  petition  of  Sanquhar, 
appointed  the  agent  to  pay  £10  sterling  towards  the  repaira- 
tion  of  the  tolbooth  of  the  said  burgh."  It  was  not  then  alone 
that  Sanquhar  was  the  recipient  of  the  bounty  of  the  Con- 
vention, for,  in  1704  there  was  allowed  to  the  burgh  £100 
Scots  of  present  supply,  and  in  the  following  year  "  Sanquhar 
and  New-Galloway  and  Stranraer  were  each  allowed  £40 
in  consideration  of  the  low  and  decayed  condition  of  the 
saids  burghs  ;"  and  again,  in  1727,  Sanquhar  is  allowed  £12 
sterling  to  be  applied  to  the  repair  of  the  Tolbooth  and  other 
public  works. 

In  the  early  days  of  the  Convention,  the  qualification  of 
commissioners  was  more  restricted  than  it  is  now.  For  some 
hundreds  of  years  no  one  was  allowed  to  sit  as  a  commissioner 
unless  he  were  an  inhabitant  of  the  burgh,  and  his  interests 
identified  with  those  of  the  general  community  which  he 
represented.  Thus,  in  1675,  it  is  ordained  that  none  but 
"  merchand  traffiqueris  "  are  to  be  appointed  commissioners. 
Previously,  in  1660,  the  commission  from  Sanquhar  was 
refused  because  it  was  in  favour  of  a  person  not  qualified,  a 
course  which  was  frequently  taken,  and  shewed  the  resolution 
of  the  Convention  to  preserve  the  purity  of  the  representation 
— to  secure  that  it  should  be  composed  of  members  who  could 
take  an  intelligent  part  in  its  business,  and  had  no  other 
object  to  serve  but  to  guard  the  rights  and  promote  the 

168  History  of  Sanquhar. 

general  interests  of  the  burghs.  Hence  we  find  that,  in 
those  days,  political  faddists  had  no  place  in  the  Convention  ; 
time  was  not  wasted  in  the  discussion  of  the  schemes  of 
political  busybodies,  or  of  questions  of  a  political  party 
character  ;  but  the  Convention  never  for  a  moment  lost  sight 
of  the  end  and  purpose  of  their  meeting.  They  jealously 
guarded  the  rights  and  privileges  of  the  burghs  from  the 
encroachments  either  of  the  Crown  or  the  nobles,  or  of  the  un- 
enfranchised multitude  outside,  and  were  constantly  engaged 
in  the  consideration  of  questions  of  trade  and  commerce 
affecting  the  interests  of  their  constituents. 

At  a  later  time,  that  is  in  the  beginning  of  last  century, 
the  stringency  of  the  Convention's  regulations  as  to  the 
qualification  of  a  commissioner  appears  to  have  been  some- 
what relaxed,  for,  from  1718  to  1726,  Sanquhar  was  repre- 
sented by  one  George  Irving,  who  was  neither  an  inhabitant 
of  the  town  nor  a  "  merchant  trafficker,"  but  a  W.S.  in 
Edinburgh.  This  George  Irving  deserves  more  than  a  mere 
passing  notice,  for  he  seems  to  have  been  a  person  of  great 
business  capacity  and  soundness  of  judgment,  and,  by  the 
active  part  which  he  took  in  the  business  of  the  Convention, 
he  brought  the  name  of  Sanquhar  into  honourable  promi- 
nence in  the  records  of  that  body.  His  qualities  would 
appear  to  have  been  known  before  he  entered  the  Conven- 
tion, for  no  sooner  did  he  take  his  seat  there,  in  the  year 
1718,  than  he  was  employed  on  important  committee  work, 
dealing  with  the  questions  of  the  fisheries  and  "  unfree 
trading."  In  1720,  he  first  sat  at  the  general  Convention, 
and,  for  some  years  thereafter,  there  was  scarcely  a  member 
who  possessed  in  a  higher  degree  the  confidence  of  the  Con- 
vention. He  was,  in  1724,  appointed  one  of  three  commis- 
sioners to  meet  at  Dunfermline  "  to  determine  all  differences 
that  may  happen  in  the  elections,  agreeable  to  the  meaning 
and  extent  of  the  decreet  arbitral,  that  the  peace  of  the  said 
burgh  may  be  establisht  in  time  coming."  He  had,  however, 
in  1720,  received  a  still  more  important  nomination,  for,  in 

History  of  Sanquhar.  169 

that  year,  the  Lord  Provost  of  Edinburgh,  having  been 
appointed  to  proceed  to  London  as  the  plenipotentiary  of 
the  Convention  to  negotiate  with  the  King  and  the  Ministry 
in  the  "burrowes  affaires,"  appointed  Mr  Irving,  commissioner 
for  the  burgh  of  Sanquhar,  to  assist  him.  In  July,  1721,  a 
committee  was  appointed  to  receive  from  the  commissioner 
for  the  burgh  of  Sanquhar  a  report  of  what  was  transacted  at 
London  in  the  royal  burrows'  concerns.  The  report  was 
given  in,  and  met  with  the  approval  of  the  Convention,  which 
thereupon  "  ordered  payment  to  the  Lord  Provost  of  500 
guineas,  and  to  his  assessor  (Mr  Geo.  Irving)  of  200  guineas 
for  defraying  their  charges."  Finally,  with  regard  to  this 
distinguished  representative  of  Sanquhar,  we  note  that,  in 
1728,  George  Irving,  described  as  a  <:  wryter  to  the  signet," 
was  elected  agent  of  the  burghs. 

A  list  of  the  various  representatives  of  Sanquhar  at  the 
Convention  will  be  found  in  the  appendix.  This  list  illus- 
trates the  changes  which  the  spelling  of  the  name  of  the 
town  has  undergone. 

A  curious  entry  occurs  in  the  minutes  of  1772,  where  we 
read  that — "  Allan  Ramsay  having  been  engaged  to  write  a 
poem  in  support  of  the  Convention's  dealing  with  the  fishery 
question,  he  is  allowed  a  gratuity  by  the  Convention  of  £120 
Scots  for  writing  the  same,  which  is  among  his  published 
works,  entitled  '  On  the  prospect  of  plenty — a  Poem  on  the 
North  Sea  Fishery,'  and  is  inscribed  '  To  the  Royal  Burrows 
of  Scotland.' " 

The  first  Minute  Book  extant  of  the  Town  Council  of 
Sanquhar  commences  with  the  year  1718.  The  book  would 
appear  to  have  been  the  Protocol  Book  of  William  Whyte, 
Notary  Public,  and  has,  as  usual  with  such  books,  the  signa- 
ture of  the  Clerk  of  the  Society  of  Notaries  on  the  top  of 
every  page.  It  contains,  first,  a  copy  of  Whyte's  own  com- 
mission as  a  Notary,  and  then  follow  copies  of  deeds  drawn 
by  him — Tack  by  the  Earl  of  Annandalu,  and  Seisin  on  Bond 


170  History  of  Sanqtikar. 

to  James  Johnstone  by  the  Earl  of  Athole.  The  book,  which 
consists  of  32  pages  or  thereby,  had  in  some  way  fallen 
into  the  hands  of  John  Menzies,  Town  Clerk,  by  whom  it  had 
been  turned  to  use  as  a  Council  Minute  Book.  It  is  to  be 
regretted  that  the  records  of  the  Council  prior  to  this  date 
have  disappeared,  but,  what  is  more  to  be  wondered  at,  the 
Minute  Book  from  1817  to  1831,  a  comparatively  recent 
period,  is  also  awanting.  The  fly  leaf  of  this  earliest  Minute 
Book  is  occupied  with  a  list  of  the  persons  in  the  burgh, 
including  of  course  Crawick  Mill,  which  is  within  the  ancient 
royalty,  who  were  entitled  to  grazing  on  Sanquhar  Moor, 
with  the  number  of  "  Kyne  "  kept  by  each.  When  King 
James  erected  the  burgh  into  a  royalty,  he  endowed  her  with 
a  fair  patrimony.  The  boundaries  are  as  follow  : — Starting 
at  the  river  Nith,  where  the  Corseburn  flows  into  it,  it  ascends 
the  course  of  said  burn  till  where  it  is  crossed  by  the  Deer 
park  dyke,  follows  the  line  of  this  dyke  along  the  south  of 
the  town  till  the  Townfoot  burn  is  reached.  Turning  then 
sharp  back,  and  ascending  said  burn  to  its  source,  it  circles 
round  by  the  Quarter  Moor  till  the  head  of  Conrick  Burn 
is  reached,  when  it  follows  down  the  course  of  said  burn 
till  it  reaches  Crawick,  and  down  that  stream  to  the  old 
bridge.  At  this  point  it  turns  again  towards  the  town, 
passes  to  the  source  of  a  little  runlet,  which,  now  covered 
over,  ran  along  the  hollow  on  the  lower  side  of  the  railway 
to  the  head  of  Helen's  Wynd,  now  St.  Mary's  Street.  It 
then  passes  down  behind  the  houses,  crosses  the  turnpike 
road  immediately  behind  the  Town  Hall,  whence  it  follows 
the  fall  of  the  land  on  the  north  side  of  the  Lochan,  through 
the  Ward  park,  across  the  Coal  Road,  into  Blackaddie 
Mill-dam,  and  thence  to  the  river  Nith  by  the  runner 
from  said  darn,  which  flows  in  at  the  foot  of  the  "  Minister's 
Pool."  It  will  thus  be  seen  that  this  was  a  right  royal  gift, 
extending  to  hundreds  of  acres,  which,  had  it  been  judi- 
ciously and  carefully  administered,  might  have  made 
Sanquhar  one  of  the  wealthiest  little  corporations  in  the 
whole  country.  But  this  was  what  could  not  be  looked  for  in 

History  of  Sanquhar.  171 

times  when  the  Town  Councils  of  small  burghs  were  hotbeds 
of  corruption,  and  the  councillors,  self-elected,  owned  no 
responsibility,  and  occupied  a  position  of  perfect  security. 
The  first  step  towards  appropriation  was  the  soumes  of  grass, 
or  rights  of  pasturage,  which,  granted  by  the  Council  to 
their  friends,  were  made  the  foundation  of  claims,  and  were 
sustained. by  the  Court  of  Session  in  the  Decree  of  Division 
in  the  year  1830.  These  soumes  or  grants  of  lands  became 
ultimately  so  numerous  as  to  swallow  up  one  half,  and  that 
by  far  the  better  half,  of  the  whole  lands,  and  in  process  of  time 
became  absorbed  into  the  hands  of  a  few.  The  great  bulk  of  the 
soumers,  finding  the  privilege  of  grazing  small  crofts,  situated 
at  a  considerable  distance,  to  be  no  great  advantage,  parted 
readily  enough  with  their  rights  to  others  who  prized  them 
more  highly.  The  whole  of  the  population  had  rights  of 
pasturage  on  the  common,  and  a  large  number  of  cows  were 
kept  in  the  town  and  Crawick  Mill,  and  contributed  in  no 
small  degree  to  the  sustenance  of  the  families  of  the  labour- 
ing people.  These  cows  were  tended  by  a  herd,  the  town 
cows  and  the  Crawick  Mill  cows  separately.  The  town  herd's 
house  was  situated  on  the  edge  of  the  common,  overlooking 
the  town  ;  and,  at  an  early  hour  of  the  morning,  he  paraded 
the  street,  blowing  a  horn,  whereupon  the  cows  were  turned 
out  by  their  owners  to  be  gathered  together  into  a  drove  by 
"  herdie,"  and  taken  off  up  the  Cow  Wynd  to  the  moor.  The 
house  for  the  herd  was  provided  out  of  the  town's  funds.  In 
1792,  there  are  sums  paid  "for  wood  to  the  herd's  house,  and 
to  a  mason  for  work."  The  cow-herd  was  fed  in  the  houses 
of  the  cow-keepers,  according  to  a  regular  rotation,  and  in 
addition  he  received  a  shilling  from  each  on  the  term  day. 
This  state  of  things  continued  down  to  about  sixty  years  ago, 
at  which  time  the  holders  of  soumes  banded  themselves 
together  and  applied  to  the  Court  of  Session  for  a  division 
of  the  lands  between  them  and  the  general  community,  in 
order  that  they  might  enclose  and  cultivate  the  portion  that 
might  be  assigned  to  them  as  their  share,  there  being  no 

172  History  of  Sanquhar. 

encouragement  to  improve  so  long  as  these  herds  of  cows 
roamed  over  the  whole  surface  of  the  common.  The  rights 
of  the  soumers  were  admitted  by  the  Court,  and  a  decree  of 
division  was  pronounced,  whereby  the  common  was  split  into 
two  almost  equal  portions,  the  western  portion  going  to  the 
soumers,  and  the  eastern  portion  to  the  town,  the  boundary 
being  a  line  drawn  from  the  top  of  Matthew's  Folly  straight 
through  the  moor  in  a  north-easterly  direction.  The  soumers 
then  proceeded  with  the  work  of  fencing,  draining,  and  culti- 
vating their  lands  Though  it  was  the  case  that,  in  the  begin- 
ning of  this  century,  the  whole  moor  was  pastured,  it  is  evident 
that,  at  a  very  early  period,  the  cultivation  of  the  moor  had 
been  attempted,  for  we  find  that,  in  1727,  the  Town  Council 
"  ordaine  each  heritor  and  tenant  that  has  in  his  possession 
half  an  acre  of  avrable  land,  less  or  more,  that  he  labour 
to  sow  the  eighth  part  of  ane  Nithsdale  peck  of  pease  each 
year,  and  so  proportionable  upward,  conform  to  their  arrable 
land,  and  that  the  said  Council  shall  oblidge  a  reasonable 
quantitie  of  good  and  sufficient  pease  to  be  brought  in  spring 
to  the  said  burgh  in  due  time  for  seed  that  the  heritors  and 
tennents  be  not  disappointed  ;  and  the  same  to  be  sold  at  a 
reasonable  price,  and  that  under  the  pain  of  five  merks  Scots 
money  for  ilk  break  toties  quoties  to  be  payed  by  ilk  trans- 
gressor ;  and  for  the  preservance  of  the  Growing  Pease  be  it 
further  enacted  that  each  head  of  a  familie  be  oblidged  for 
himself  and  every  one  of  his  famiiie  that  shall  be  convicted  of 
plucking,  trampling,  or  any  other  ways  abusing  the  said  pease 
to  pay  a  shilling  sterling  of  fyne  for  each  transgression,  and 
whoever  are  taken  in  the  said  pease  red-hand  amongst  them, 
whether  growing  or  Cutt  are  to  be  set  half  an  hour  in  the 
Joggs  for  each  tyme,  and  they  Doe  appoint  and  ordaine  the 
haill  heritors  and  tennents  within  this  brugh  to  keep  and 
observe  the  same  under  the  penalty  foresaid." 

This  ordinance  refers  to  a  particular  sort  of  grain -measure, 
in  vogue  in  Nithsdale  in  the  eighteenth  century,  called  the 
Nithsdale  peck.  We  get  at  the  capacity  of  this  measure  by 

History  of  Sanquhar.  173 

a  reference  to  the  rent-roll  in  kind  of  the  estates  of  the  Earl 
of  Nithsdale,  forfeited  to  the  Crown  in  1715,  where  the 
rent  is  stated  both  in  Nithsdale  arid  ordinary  measure,  from 
which  it  would  appear  that  16  bolls  2  firlots  of  Nithsdale 
measure  were  equal  to  about  44  bolls  ordinary  measure.  It 
likewise  contains  the  earliest  reference  to  be  found  in  the 
minutes  to  that  instrument  of  punishment,  the  "  Joggs."  This 
was  for  the  object  of  exposing  the  delinquent  to  public 
reprobation  and  contempt,  arid  consisted  of  an  iron  ring 
affixed  to  the  outer  wall  of  the  Town  Hall,  and  running 
on  an  upright  iron  bar,  to  suit  criminals  of  varying  stature. 
It  was  at  the  corner  next  the  street,  and  therefore  the  most 
public  place  in  the  town.  An  iron  collar  attached  to  the 
ring,  and  secured  by  a  padlock,  encircled  the  neck  of  the 
prisoner.  The  very  last  time  that  it  was  used  was  in  182 — 
for  a  case  of  housebreaking.  The  prisoner  was  a  person  of 
so  diminutive  stature  that  a  stone  had  to  be  placed  in  the 
ground  so  as  to  raise  his  neck  to  the  level  of  the  ring.  He 
had  to  stand  there  two  hours  on  three  successive  days,  one 
of  which  happened  to  be  the  quarterly  market  or  fair.  An 
aggravation  of  the  punishment,  where  the  offence  excited 
public  indignation,  was  the  liberty  which  the  populace 
received — or  took — to  pelt  the  delinquent  with  rotten  eggs  or 
other  obnoxious  missiles.  The  ring  and  stone  are  still  to  be 
seen  in  their  place. 

Immediately  after  the  division  of  the  moor,  the  Magistrates 
resolved  to  let  their  portion  to  a  tenant,  on  lease,  but  some 
hitch  occurred,  for  the  lease  was  immediately  surrendered  by 
the  tenant,  when  it  was  decided  to  let  cow's  grass  to  the 
burgesses  and  inhabitants  at  the  rate  of  £1  per  head  per 
annum,  but  they  do  not  seem  to  have  been  willing  to  avail 
themselves  of  the  opportunity,  for,  next  year,  an  attempt  to 
let  it  "  all  and  whole,"  at  a  rent  of  £18  sterling,  was  made. 
No  offer,  however,  was  forthcoming,  and  ultimately  it  was 
agreed  to  erect  a  dividing  dyke  across  the  middle  of  it,  and 
to  let  these  two  divisions — the  first,  which  was  the  part  next 

174  History  of  Sanquhar. 

the  town,  consisting  of  30  acres,  in  three  lots  of  10  acres 
each  ;  and  the  second  division  or  back  part,  consisting  of 
130  acres,  in  nine  equal  lots,  on  lease  of  nine  years'  duration, 
reserving  about  20  acres  of  common  near  the  Loch,  for  the 
use  of  the  inhabitants  for  casting  peats  and  divots,  and  for 
the  accommodation  of  passing  droves  of  cattle  and  sheep. 
The  Council  fixed  the  charge  for  cattle  and  sheep  lying  on 
the  muir  "  at  one  penny  per  head  of  cattle  and  fourpence  per 
score  of  sheep  for  a  period  of  fifteen  hours  or  under.  If  they 
continued  longer  they  were  to  pay  double  so  long  as  they 
remained."  The  Town  Council  succeeded  by  this  process  of 
sub-division  in  getting  the  land  let,  but  their  troubles  only 
began  at  this  stage,  for  the  greatest  difficulty  was  experi- 
enced in  the  collection  of  the  rents.  Tenants  were  continu- 
ally in  arrear,  and  the  Council  were  ever  and  anon  passing- 
resolutions  to  send  them  threatening  letters.  The  property 
was  in  reality  of  little  value  to  the  town,  and,  after  years  of 
continual  annoyance,  they  resolved,  in  1857,  to  build  a  farm- 
steading,  and  let  the  whole  as  one  farm  for  fifteen  years, 
with  the  same  reservation  of  common  as  formerly.  It  was  set 
up  at  £100,  and  let  at  £142.  An  even  higher  rent  was 
obtained  next  lease,  but,  on  the  expiry  of  this  second  term,  a 
considerable  reduction  of  rent  had  to  be  submitted  to,  a 
period  of  severe  agricultural  depression  and  a  succession  of 
bad  seasons  having  set  in  ;  and,  even  then,  the  tenant,  after 
obtaining  voluntary  reductions  from  time  to  time,  ultimately, 
with  consent  of  the  Council,  surrendered  his  lease.  The 
farm  is  now  let  at  £112.  Before  the  farm  steading  was  built, 
an  offer  of  £100  a  year  for  the  pasturage  was  made  to  the 
Council  by  a  farmer,  whose  lands  lay  contiguous  to  the  moor. 
If  we  take  into  account  the  enormous  sum  that  has  been 
spent  on  the  farm,  from  first  to  last,  on  buildings,  draining, 
fencing,  &c.,  it  is  plain  that,  had  the  Council  accepted  the 
offer,  they  would  have  been  more  in  pocket  than  by  the 
course  they  followed. 

An  examination  of  the  burgh  accounts  from  the  year  1857, 

History  of  Sanquhar.  175 

when  the  steading  was  erected  and  the  lands  enclosed,  till 
the  present  time,  a  period  of  34  years,  gives  rather  startling 
results  of  the  land-owning  of  the  Town  Council.  During 
that  time  the  total  revenue  of  the  farm,  including  the 
game-rent,  amounted  to  £5606  3s,  and  the  expenditure  was 
as  follows: — Building,  £775  15s;  draining,  £750  Is;  roads 
and  dykes,  £262  8s ;  lime,  &c.,  £58  10s  ;  general  repairs, 
£96  18s  ;  law,  £79  ;  imperial  and  local  taxes,  £581  2s  ; 
minister's  stipend,  £725  9s  ;  miscellaneous,  £87  11s,  to  which 
may  be  added  the  expense  of  boring  for  coal  in  1873-4, 
£108  15s  lOd — making  a  total  of  £3505  9s  lOd,  leaving  a  net 
balance  of  £2100  13s  2d,  or  £61  15s  7d  per  annum,  as  the 
actual  value  of  the  farm  to  the  town  during  that  period. 

In  connection  with  the  general  administration  of  the 
Council  during  the  last  twent}r-three  years,  it  may  be  stated 
that,  apart  altogether  from  the  heavy  law  expenses  incurred 
by  the  proving  of  the  Tenor  of  the  Charter,  and  in  the  litiga- 
tion with  the  Duke  of  Buccleuch  over  the  Teind  question 
and  arrears  of  Feu-rents  in  1860,  to  which  more  particular 
reference  is  made  in  the  proper  place,  there  has  been  spent 
during  that  period  on  petty  litigation,  arising  out  of  various 
disputes,  the  sum  of  £427  8s  2d. 

A  portion  of  the  main  lands,  called  "Larsbraes  and  others," 
with  the  coal,  was,  in  the  year  1806,  let  to  Mr  M'Nab, 
proprietor  of  the  Holm,  on  a  lease  of  999  years,  on  payment 
of  a  slump  sum  of  £50  for  the  coal,  and  15s  of  annual  rent 
for  the  land;  and,  subsequently,  he  obtained  a  lease  of  the 
same  duration  of  the  land  overlooking  the  Holm  house,  and 
now  occupied  by  the  Holm  plantation,  on  payment  of  another 
sum  of  £50,  and  an  annual  rent  of  £2  10s.  Shortly  there- 
after, a  fresh  proposal  was  made  by  Mr  M'Nab  to  lease  from 
the  Council  the  coals  in  a  portion  of  the  Muir,  and  a  lease  of 
38  years  was  granted  on  certain  conditions,  one  of  which 
was,  that  the  price  of  coal  was  not  to  exceed  sixpence  per 
load  at  the  hill,  unless  the  wages  of  the  men  were  either 
raised  or  lowered,  in  which  case  the  price  was  to  rise  or  fall 

176  History  of  Sanquhar. 

in  proportion,  according  to  the  determination  of  two  neutral 
persons,  appointed  by  the  Council  and  Mr  M'Nab.  There 
are  traces  of  these  coal-workings  to  be  seen  in  the  plantation, 
but  nothing  of  consequence  was  done,  for  the  death  of  Mr 
M'Nab,  in  1811,  put  a  stop  to  operations,  his  leases  being 
purchased  by  the  Duke  of  Queensberry.  At  his  death, 
M'Nab  was  owing  the  town  £85  17s  lid  for  coal  lordship, 
but  that  was  covered  by  a  loan  of  £100  which  the  town  had 
from  him. 

The  Coal,  in  the  main  portion  of  the  Muir  lands,  had  been 
worked  before  M'Nab's  time,  and  these  works  were  continued 
successfully  down  to  the  year  1822,  and  even  much  later. 
In  a  minute  of  1790,  a  Robert  Sandilands  is  mentioned  as 
the  owner  of  coal  works  on  the  Muir.  He  resided  at  Knowe- 
head.  The  first  reference  we  havo  in  the  burgh's  accounts 
to  mining  for  coal  is  to  be  found  in  the  year  1792,  when — 
"  The  Magistrates  and  Town  Council,  being  in  Council  assem- 
bled, and  taking  into  consideration  that  the  inhabitants  in 
this  Burgh  labour  under  a  great  disadvantage  from  the 
present  scarcity  of  coal,  are  resolved,  in  order  to  supply  the 
present  need,  that  coals  be  raised  out  of  the  common  land 
belonging  to  said  burgh  ;  therefore  come  to  the  resolution  of 
setting  the  sinking  of  a  pit  to  some  person,  and  appoint  Mi- 
Barker  and  Bailie  M'Math  to  treat  first  for  the  sinking  of 
said  Pit  with  any  person  who  will  take  the  doing  of  the 
same  ;  also  appoint  said  two  persons  to  survey  the  ground  in 
question  to  see  what  place  will  be  most  convenient  for  sink- 
ing said  Pit,  and  likewise  report  their  opinion  upon  every 
measure  that  may  be  most  conducive  and  of  the  greatest 
advantage  for  supplying  the  present  inhabitants  during  said 
scarcity."  Small  sums  appear  as  having  been  paid  to  work- 
men at  the  coal  works.  A  James  Henderson  is  paid  £4  10s 
"  towards  a  pitt,"  14s  9d  is  entered  for  wood  for  the  coal- 
heugh,  Is  6d  for  mending  a  creel,  and  2s  6d  for  two  pounds 
powder,  evidently  for  blasting,  while  a  man  is  paid  24s  for 
16  shifts  at  the  coal  pit.  The  accounts,  however,  are  very 

History  of  Sanquhar.  177 

loosely  kept,  and  it  is  difficult  to  trace  the  progress  of  the 
works,  but,  early  in  the  present  century,  we  have  revealed  to 
us  facts  which  open  our  eyes,  and  shew  the  mineral  wealth 
of  the  town's  property,  and  the  revenue  —  the  princely 
revenue  for  so  small  a  place  —  which  the  town  reaped, 
in  the  period  down  to  1822,  from  the  mining  operations. 
The  minerals  were  let  to  tacksmen,  though  their  names, 
cui-iously  enough,  do  not  appear  in  the  minutes,  nor  the 
terms  or  conditions  on  which  they  worked.  The  accounts, 
however,  shew  that  they  paid  their  rents  by  a  lordship  on 
the  output.  The  amount  received  from  this  source  was — in 
1807,  £244;  in  1814,  £710  ;  in  1816,  £504;  in  1817,  £343  ; 
in  1820,  £100  ;  in  1821,  £93  ;  and  in  1822,  £75,  shewing  a 
grand  total  in  these  sixteen  years  of  £2069,  besides  sums 
received  from  M'Nab  in  1806  of  £150.  What  became  of 
this  large  sum  ?  is  the  question  that  will  start  to  the  lips  of 
the  reader.  It  is  impossible  to  say  what  became  of  it.  The 
two  sums  first  received  from  M'Nab  of  £50  and  £100  are 
noted  as  "  paid  to  Provost  Otto,"  for  what  reason  does  not 
appear,  nor  is  there  any  evidence  of  its  ever  having  been 
repaid ;  while,  in  the  years  during  which  these  enormous 
sums  were  being  received,  we  cannot  observe  that  any  great 
amount  was  spent  in  works  of  public  utility.  The  accounts  are 
bristling  with  payments  of  sums  to  quite  a  number  of  people, 
some  of  whose  names  appear  rather  frequently.  The  entries 
are  brief,  and  convey  no  explanation,  thus — "  Paid  to  so-and- 
so,"  and  the  sum.  Perhaps  the  key  to  the  whole  mystery  is 
to  be  found  in  one^candid  entry — "Paid  for  Election  Enter- 
tainment, £30  10s  6d."  How  suggestive  this,  and  tending 
to  lend  an  air  of  probability  to  the  otherwise  almost  incredible 
stories  that  are  still  handed  down,  that  this  was  a  period 
during  which  the  funds  of  the  town  were  plundered  by  the 
Council  and  their  confederates  in  the  most  unblushing 
manner,  while  the  voice  of  conscience  was  drowned  in  the 
ever-recurring  carousals  in  which  they  indulged.  However 
it  be,  it  is  patent  that  the  money  went  as  it  came,  and  that 


178  History  of  Sanquhar. 

the  town  was,  in  the  end,  not  a  penny  the  richer  for  all  the 
wealth  with  which  it  had  been  endowed  by  royal  hands. 
The  only  redeeming  feature  of  this  corrupt  time  is  the  fact 
that,  in  1812,  a  year  of  great  scarcity,  the  Council  supplied 
oatmeal  to  the  inhabitants  at  a  price  somewhat  lower  than 
cost.  The  price  of  the  meal  ranged  from  4s  6d  to  7s  per 
stone,  and  was  retailed  at  a  loss  of  from  3d  to  Is  per  stone. 
The  total  sum  spent  in  this  way  was  £73  Os  6d.  In  1813 
they  spent  in  the  same  way  £20  19s  lOd. 

It  was  in  this  period,  too,  that  the  idea  of  dividing  the  muir- 
land  was  first  broached.  "  The  Council  resolve  that  an  applica- 
tion should  be  made  to  the  principal  Heritors  holding  rights 
of  Servitude  over  the  Muir  for  their  concurrence  in  having  a 
division  of  the  Muir,  which,  in  its  present  state,  is  of  little 
or  no  value  either  to  the  Heritors  or  to  the  Town;"  and  it  is 
noted  later  that  "a  letter  from  the  Provost  was  read,  mention- 
ing that  he  was  of  opinion  that  the  Muir  ought  to  be  divided 
entirely — that  is,  that  those  parts  sold  and  feued  off  by  the 
Town  ought  to  be  included  in  the  division — and  that  one-half 
of  the  Muir,  estimated  according  to  the  value  of  the  land, 
ought  to  be  set  apart  for  the  Town,  and  the  remaining  half 
for  the  Heritors."  In  an  ordinary  case,  one  would  be  inclined 
to  say  that  the  Council  were  good  judges  of  what  was  best  in 
the  town's  interest,  but  we  have  already  had  a  measure  of 
their  concern  about  that,  and,  when  we  bear  in  mind  that  the 
Provost  was  the  redoubtable  Major  Crichton,  the  Chamber- 
lain of  the  youthful  Duke  of  Buccleuch,  and  consider  how 
readily  such  councillors  would  fall  in  with  his  desires,  the 
proposal  at  once  assumes  quite  a  different  aspect.  To  their 
credit,  however,  be  it  said  that  the  suggestion  contained  in 
the  Provost's  letter  (who  possibly  thought  it  safer  to  write 
than  to  come  to  the  town  at  that  time)  that  the  lands  already 
sold  or  feued,  in  virtue  of  their  undoubted  rights,  should  be 
included  in  the  division,  was  too  barefaced  even  for  them. 
They  agreed  to  the  division,  but  rejected  this  addition  by  the 
Provost.  The  project,  however,  fell  through,  and  no  further 

History  of  Sanquhar.  179 

notice  of  it  appears  in  the  minutes.  In  all  likelihood,  the 
Council  were  terrified  at  the  outburst  of  popular  indignation 
which  their  scheme  evoked.  That  there  was  such  an  out- 
burst we  cannot  doubt,  for  the  echoes  of  it  are  audible  to  this 
day  from  the  lips  of  the  older  inhabitants.  It  will  be  seen 
that  the  division  was  ultimately  carried  out  in  the  year 
1830 — a  very  opportune  time  for  the  Heritors,  as  they  were 
called.  The  voice  of  popular  opinion  was  making  itself 
heard.  Reform  was  in  the  air.  It  was  plain  to  any  shrewd 
observer  of  the  course  of  events,  and  the  state  of  public  feel- 
ing, that  the  time  was  rapidly  approaching  when  the  present 
state  of  municipal  government,  or  rather  misgovernment, 
would  no  longer  be  endured,  and  the  management  of  burghs 
would  pass  into  the  hands  of  those  who  would  be,  in  some 
degree,  representative  of  the  people,  and  liable  to  be  called  to 
account  for  the  discharge  of  the  trust  committed  to  them. 
It  was  now  or  never,  then,  with  the  holders  of  power.  Their 
time  was  short,  and  they  must  make  the  best  use  of  it. 
Major  Crichton  still  occupied  the  civic  chair,  and,  under  his 
auspices,  the  scheme  was  carrie'd  through.  It  may  be  said 
that  the  fact  that  the  Court  of  Session,  a  body  that  has 
always,  happily,  been  unsuspected  of  corruption,  granted 
Decree  of  Division,  proves  that  the  claims  of  the  Heritors 
were  legal.  But  law  is  one  thing  and  justice  sometimes 
another  thing,  and  while  the  Court  could  not  inquire  into 
the  origin  of  these  rights  of  the  Heritors,  but  only  take 
matters  as  they  found  them,  the  inhabitants  knew  full  well 
how  they  had  at  first  been  acquired.  In  any  case,  it  woidd 
have  been  a  formidable  business  for  the  Heritors  to  have 
attempted,  in  the  face  of  an  opposing  Council,  backed  up  by 
an  indignant  community,  to  parcel  out  the  muir-lands  as 
they  did;  but,  with  a  pliant  Corporation,  it  was  all  plain  sail- 
ing; and  so  the  town  lost,  at  one  fell  swoop,  the  half  of  its 
patrimony.  The  only  excuse  for  dwelling  at  such  length  on 
this  subject  is  the  fact  that  there  is  perhaps  nothing,  during 
the  whole  municipal  history  of  the  town,  which  has  evoked 

180  History  of  Sa  nquhai : 

so  much  popular  feeling  as  the  division  of  the  muir.  It  is 
not  so  long,  indeed,  since  a  strong  disposition  was  shewn  to 
test  the  legality  of  the  transaction,  and  it  was  only  when  the 
Council  had  obtained  the  advice  of  the  best  legal  authority 
of  the  day  that  they  felt  compelled,  though  reluctantly,  to 
admit  that  the  property  was  gone  beyond  recall.  Though 
the  land  was  gone,  it  was  shewn,  by  the  action  relative  to  the 
quarrying  of  stones  for  the  Free  Church  in  1843,  that  the 
Town  Council  were  still  superiors,  and  therefore  the  owners 
of  the  minerals  beneath  the  surface.  In  1867,  the  question 
was  raised  whether  they  were  not  likewise  entitled  to  the 
game  on  the  divided  lands.  It  was  proposed  to  the  holders 
to  take  jointly  the  opinion  of  Counsel  on  the  point.  This 
proposal  was  declined,  whereupon  the  Council  resolved  to 
roup  the  game,  which  was  done  next  year.  The  tenant  was 
chary  of  exercising  the  right,  and,  as  the  Council  were  dis- 
inclined to  bind  themselves  to  protect  him  against  all  risks, 
and  he  was  warned  by  the  Heritors  that  he  would  be  prose- 
cuted if  he  dared  to  trespass  on  their  lands,  the  right  was 
never  freely  exercised,  nor  was  the  rent  paid.  The  attempt 
to  establish  the  claim  was  a  faint  and  half-hearted  one,  and 
came  to  nothing. 

From  the  Union,  and  down  to  the  passing  of  the  Reform 
Act  of  1832,  the  election  of  a  Member  of  Parliament  for 
the  District  of  Burghs — Dumfries,  Annan,  Kirkcudbright, 
Sanquhar,  and  Lochmaben — was  in  the  hands  of  the  Town 
Councils  of  the  respective  burghs,  and  was  carried  through 
in  the  following  manner  :• — The  Writ  for  the  Election  having 
issued  from  his  Majesty's  Court  of  Chancery  to  the  Sheriff 
of  the  County,  notice  was  sent  by  the  Sheriff  to  each 
Town  Council,  requiring  them  to  "  meet  and  convene  within 
their  ordinary  Council  house,  or  place  where  they  use  to  meet 
in  Council,  with  all  Convenient  Dispatch,  and  there  to  Choice 
a  Commissioner  for  the  Burgh,  in  such  manner  as  they  were 
in  use  to  Choice  a  Commissioner  to  Represent  them  in  the 
Parliament  of  Scotland,  to  meet  with  the  Commissioners  of 

History  of  Sanquhar.  181 

the  other  Burrows,"  on  a  day  fixed  by  the  Sheriff,  betwixt 
the  hours  of  ten  in  the  morning  and  two  in  the  afternoon,  in 
the  Burgh  which  was  for  the  time  the  "  present  preceding 
burgh,"  the  election  being  held,  according  to  a  system  of 
regular  rotation,  each  burgh  taking  that  place  in  succession. 
The  Commissioner  so  appointed  is  constantly  described  in  the 
minute  of  appointment  as  "a  Man  fearing  God,  of  the  true 
Protestant  Religion  publickly  professit  and  authorised  by 
the  laws  of  the  Kingdom,  without  suspicion  to  the  contrair, 
Expert  in  the  Common  affairs  of  the  Burrows,  a  Burgess  and 
Inhabitant  within  this  Burgh,  bearing  all  portable  charges 
with  his  Neighbours  and  a  part  of  the  public  Burdens,  and 
who  can  lose  and  win  in  all  their  Affairs." 

The  manner  of  the  appointment  of  the  Burgh's  commis- 
sioner was  this  : — The  Provost,  on  receipt  of  the  Notice  from 
the  Sheriff,  instantly  called  a  meeting  of  the  Council  by  sending 
round  the  officer  to  each  member.  When  the  Council  had 
assembled,  the  Provost  reported  the  receipt  of  the  Precept  of 
the  Sheriff  (giving  the  very  hour  of  its  coming  to  hand  by 
courier),  and  setting  forth  the  nature  of  said  Precept,  viz.  :— 
"  That  every  royal  Borough  of  the  said  shire  should  freely 
and  Indifferently  cause  to  be  elected  one  Commissioner  to 
Elect  one  Burgess  of  the  most  discreet  and  sufficient  of  the 
Class  or  District."  The  Acts  of  Parliament  regulating  such 
Elections,  and  Acts  relating  to  Bribery  and  Corruption,  were 
then  read  over  in  the  hearing  of  the  Council.  The  two 
officers  were  then  called  in,  and  testified  that  the  whole 
members  of  the  Council  had  been  summoned  to  that  meeting, 
whereupon  the  Council  fixed  the  time  and  place  for  appoint- 
ment of  their  Commissioner.  At  this  second  meeting  the 
Oath  for  Town  Clerks,  prescribed  by  the  Act  of  the  16th 
year  of  Geo.  II.,  was  first  administered  to  the  Clerk  by  the 
Provost,  and  then  the  whole  members  of  Council  "  having 
qualified  themselves  by  their  severally  taking  and  subscribing 
the  Oath  of  Allegiance  to  His  Majesty  the  King,  subscribing 
the  Assurance,  and  taking  and  signing  the  Oath  of  Abjura- 

182  History  of  Sanquhar. 

tion,"  proceeded  to  the  Election  of  their  Commissioner.     The 
Oath  taken  by  the  Clerk  ran  as  follows  : — 

"I  do  solemnly  swear  that  I  have  not  directly  or  indirectly,  by  way  of 
loan  or  other  device  whatsoever,  received  any  sum  or  sums  of  money,  office, 
place  or  employment,  gratuity  or  reward,  or  any  bond,  bill,  note,  or  any 
promise  of  any  sum  or  sums  of  money,  office,  place,  employment,  or 
gratuity  whatsoever,  either  by  myself,  or  any  other  to  my  use  or  benefit 
or  advantage,  to  make  out  any  commission  for  a  Commissioner  for  choosing 
a  Burgess  ;  and  that  I  will  duly  make  out  a  commission  to  the  Commis- 
sioner who  shall  be  chosen  by  the  majority  of  the  Town  Council  assembled, 
and  to  no  other  person. — So  help  me  God." 

In  those  times  when  the  whole  system  of  government  was 
honeycombed  with  corruption,  a  seat  in  Parliament  was 
eagerly  coveted  by  those  who  were  much  less  concerned 
about  the  commonweal  than  about  their  own  personal 
aggrandisement.  Innumerable  offices  and  appointments 
were  in  the  gift  of  Members  of  Parliament,  and  afforded  the 
opportunity  of  serving  not  only  their  own  interests,  but  those 
of  their  friends  and  followers.  Honourable  and  patriotic 
men  there  were,  no  doubt,  among  them,  but,  even  upon  those, 
the  loose  moral  ideas  and  usages  of  their  time  had  their  own 
effect,  and  in  public  affairs  they  would  lend  themselves  to 
practices  which  they  would  have  scorned  in  their  private  and 
business  relations.  What  was  true  in  this  respect  of  them 
was  emphatically  so  in  the  case  of  the  bodies — the  Town 
Councils  of  the  burghs — who  possessed  the  privilege  of  their 
election.  Lower  down  in  the  social  scale,  though  persons  of 
importance  in  their  own  little  spheres,  they  had  no  conscien- 
tious scruples  in  imitating  the  manners  of  their  "  betters  ; " 
and  so  we  find  that  in  connection  with  this,  one  of  the  most 
important  public  functions  with  which  they  were  entrusted, 
the  Town  Councils  of  small  burghs  were  perfect  hotbeds  of 
corruption  and  intrigue,  and  stories  are  still  told  of  how  votes 
were  bought  and  sold  in  the  most  open  and  unblushing 
manner.  As  an  instance  of  this  kind,  it  is  said  that  the  vote 
of  the  burgh's  commissioner  was,  on  one  occasion,  secured  by 
means  of  a  little  bartering  transaction  whereby  he,  being  a 

Histwy  of  Sanqufiar.  183 

clothier,  received,  in  exchange  for  a  grey  plaid,  the  title  deeds 
of  the  principal  inn  in  the  town.  If  they  had  not  the  fear  of 
God,  still  less  had  they  the  fear  of  man  before  their  eyes. 
The  constitution  and  manner  of  election  of  Town  Councils 
rendered  them  perfectly  irresponsible.  As  has  been  said, 
they  were  self-elected  bodies,  having  the  right  of  filling  up 
by  nomination  such  vacancies  as  might  occur  from  time 
to  time.  Clique  and  party  therefore  reigned  supreme,  and 
care  was  taken  that  none  were  admitted  but  such  as  would 
be  willing  to  work  with  the  dominant  party,  prove  facile 
instruments  in  cany  ing  out  their  self-seeking  policy,  and 
take  a  share  in  the  general  plunder.  Their  position  was 
secure,  and  they  could  afford  to  snap  their  fingers  in  the  face 
of  public  opinion.  It  is  true  that,  along  with  the  Council  in 
the  appointment  of  their  Commissioner  to  vote  in  the  election 
of  the  burgh  Member  of  Parliament,  were  associated  the 
Deacons  of  the  Trades  —  the  masons  and  joiners,  smiths, 
weavers,  tailors,  and  shoemakers — representative  in  a  sense, 
but  powerless  to  control  the  general  body  of  the  Council. 
The  election  of  the  Member  by  the  Commissioners  was 
held  in  each  of  the  five  burghs  in  succession,  and, 
occurring  only  at  considerable  intervals,  one  can  imagine 
what  a  stir  would  be  created  in  the  returning  burgh  for  the 
time.  Such  was  the  vicious  system  that  prevailed  down  to 
1832,  when  it  was  swept  away  by  the  Act  for  the  Reform  of 
Municipal  Corporations,  under  which  the  Council  is  now 
elected  by  the  votes  of  duly  qualified  citizens. 

The  Election  of  a  Town  Council  was  held,  as  a  rule, 
annually  about  the  month  of  September  or  October,  and 
vacancies  occurring  during  the  year  were  filled  up  at  the 
time  of  their  occurrence.  The  Provost  and  all  office-bearers, 
together  with  the  Town-Clerk  and  officer  or  officers  (for 
there  were  frequently  two  of  these),  held  office  only  for  one 
year,  and  their  formal  appointment  was  recorded  at  every 
annual  election.  The  number  of  councillors  generally  chosen 
was  seventeen.  We  find  that,  though  the  election  was 

184  History  of  Sanquhar. 

generally,  it  was  not  uniformly,  held  at  the  time  stated ;  and, 
further,  it  would  appear  that  the  Burgh  down  to  1734  had 
no  regular  Sett  or  Constitution,  a  state  of  things  which  pre- 
vailed in  many  burghs,  and  which  induced  the  Convention 
of  Royal  Burrows  in  1708  to  pass  the  following  Act : — 

' '  In  the  general  Convention  of  the  Royal  Burrows  holden  at  the  Burgh 
of  Edinburgh  upon  the  fifteen  day  of  Jully  one  thousand  seven  hundred 
and  eight  years  by  the  Commissioners  therein  conveened,  The  Which  Day, 
the  Convention  finding  by  Experience  that  nothing  doth  Great  more 
trouble  to  them  than  Irregularities  and  Abusses  committed  by  particular 
Burghs  in  Electing  their  Magistrats  and  Town  Council  Contrary  to  their 
Sett  and  Antient  Custom,  Therefore  the  Convention  to  obviat  this  Incon- 
veniency  in  time  coming  Statuted  and  appointed  that  each  Royal  Burgh 
within  this  kingdom  send  up  their  Sett  to  the  Clerks  of  the  Burrows  to  be 
recorded  in  a  particular  Book  to  be  keeped  for  that  very  purpose,  To  the 
End  any  Question  about  their  rexive  Setts  may  be  quickly  discust  upon 
producing  the  sd  Book  and  that  betwixt  and  the  next  Convention,  Certifie- 
ing  Such  as  shall  fail  therein  they  shall  be  fined  by  the  next  Convention  in 
the  sum  of  Two  hundred  pound  Scots  money,  But  in  regard  the  Burgh  of 
Sanquhar  had  no  Sett,  the  Convention  by  their  Sixth  Act  of  the  Date  the 
eight  day  of  July  one  thousand  seven  hundred  and  thirteen  years  appointed 
the  Commissioners  for  the  Burghs  of  Dumfries  Kirkcudbright  Annan  and 
Lochmaben  or  any  two  of  them  to  make  a  Sett  for  the  said  Burgh  and 
report  to  the  next  Convention,  In  obedience  to  which  appointment  the 
Commissioners  before  named  gave  in  a  Sett  for  the  sd  Burgh  of  Sanquhar, 
The  Tenor  Whereof  Follows  - 

"  Whereas  The  last  general  Convention  haveing  recomended  to  the 
Commissioners  of  the  Burghs  of  Dumfries,  Kirkcudbright,  Annan,  and 
Lochmaben  to  assertain  a  Sett  for  the  Burgh  of  Sanquhar.  And  they 
haveing  conform  to  that  Recomendation  considered  duly  the  Charters  and 
Custom  of  the  said  Burgh,  They  were  of  opinion  that  for  all  Time  hereafter, 
Their  Sett  should  be  that  they  shall  have  a  Provost,  three  Baillies  Dean  of 
Guild  and  Thesaurer  with  eleven  Councelours  making  in  all  seventeen, 
And  that  these  shall  be  of  Heretors  Merchants  or  Tradesmen  Burgesses — 
Residenters  within  the  said  Burgh,  and  that  these  nor  any  of  them  shall 
Continue  longer  than  for  one  year  unless  they  be  Choiced  again,  and  at 
least  that  there  be  four  new  Couucelours  yearly  and  that  the  old  Council 
shall  still  Choise  the  new  annually  at  Michaelmas  if  it  fall  on  a  Munday, 
If  other  ways  then  the  first  Munday  after  Michaelmas,  In  witness 
whereof,  &c. 

' '  Extracted  upon  this  and  the  preceeding  page  forth  of  the  Records 
of  the  Royal  Burrows  of  Scotland  by  me  George  Home  of  Kells 
general  Clerk  to  the  Burrows — Sic  subscribitur  :  George  Home. " 

Note. — The  sum  paid  by  a  Burgess,   on  his  admission,  was  called  his 

History  of  Sanquhar.  185 

Composition,  and  was  a  variable  sum  according  to  his  station  in  life, 
ranging  from  one  pound  to  twelve  pound  Scots,  but,  towards  the  close  of 
last  century,  the  charge  became  more  regular,  being  five  shillings  sterling 
for  one  who  was  the  son  of  a  Burgess,  or  who  was  married  to  a  Burgess's 
daughter,  and  a  guinea  for  any  one  who  did  not  occupy  that  privileged 
position.  In  many  instances,  the  fee  was  remitted  out  of  consideration  of 
valuable  services  rendered  to  the  Burgh  by  the  newly-elected  burgess. 

In  the  year  1740,  the  Town  Council,  anxious  probably  to 
rid  themselves,  if  possible,  of  the  continuous  domination  of 
the  Crichtons,  by  one  or  other  of  whom  the  provostship 
appeared  likely  to  be  monopolised,  passed  an  Act  that 
"  neither  Provost  nor  Dean  of  Guild  shall  continue  longer 
than  for  two  years  in  the  same  station,  and  that  one  of  the 
three  Bailies  shall  be  changed  yearly,"  but,  in  1746,  they 
rescinded  this  resolution,  rinding  that  ':  the  Sett,  as  estab- 
lished by  the  Royal  Burrows,  ought  and  only  can  be  the 
Rule  in  the  matter,"  and  the  Crichtons  remained  in  posses- 
sion of  the  chair  from  1718  (however  long  before  that  date) 
to  1772. 

In  the  year  1732,  there  began  a  practice  of  taking,  in 
addition  to  the  oath  defideli  administratione  officii  and  the 
ordinary  Oath  of  Allegiance  to  the  King,  at  the  time  of  the 
annual  election  of  Council,  a  special  oath  of  a  more  explicit 
and  comprehensive  character,  containing  acknowledgment 
and  abjuration  with  reference  to  the  claims  of  the  Stuarts  to 
the  throne  of  the  realm.  The  taking  of  this  oath  by  the 
Council  was  an  annual  observance  down  to  the  year  1860. 
The  following  was  the  form  of  oath  : — 

' '  I  Undersubscriver  do  truly  and  sincerely  acknowledge,  profess,  testify, 
and  declare  in  my  Conscience  before  God  and  the  World  that  our  Sovereign 
Lord  King  George  the  Second  is  lawfull  and  rightfull  King  of  Great 
Britain  and  all  others  his  Majesties  dominions  thereunto  belonging,  And  I 
do  solemnly  and  sincerely  Declare  that  I  do  believe  in  my  Conscience  that 
the  person  pretended  to  be  Prince  of  Wales  dureing  the  life -of  the  late 
King  James  and  since  his  decease  pretending  to  be  and  takeing  upon  himself 
the  style  and  title  of  the  King  of  England  by  the  name  of  James  the  third 
or  of  Scotland  by  the  name  of  James  the  eight  or  the  style  and  title  of  King 
of  Great  Brittain,  hath  not  any  right  or  title  whatsoever  to  the  Crown  of 
the  Realm  or  any  other  the  Dominion  thereunto  belonging,  And  I  do 


186  History  of  SanqiiJiar. 

renounce  refuse  and  abjure  any  Allegiance  or  obedience  to  him,  and  I  do 
swear  that  I  will  bear  faithfull  and  true  allegiance  to  his  Majesty  King 
George  the  Second  and  him  will  defend  to  the  utmost  of  my  power  against 
all  Treasons  and  traitorous  Conspiracies  and  attempts  whatsomever  or 
which  shall  be  made  against  his  person  and  Government,  And  I  will  do  my 
utmost  Endeavour  to  disclose  and  make  known  to  his  Majesty  and  his 
Successors  all  Treason  and  traitorous  Conspiracies  which  I  shall  know  to 
be  against  him  or  any  of  them,  And  I  do  faithfully  promise  to  the  utmost 
of  my  power  to  Support,  Maintain  and  Defend  the  succession  of  the  Crown 
in  the  Heirs  of  the  Body  of  the  late  Princess  Sophia,  Electoress  and 
Dutches  of  Hanover  being  Protestants  against  him  the  said  James  and  all 
other  persons  qtsoever  and  all  these  things  I  do  plainly  and  sincerely 
acknowledge  and  Swear  according  to  the  Express  words  by  me  spoken  and 
accordingly  to  the  plain  Commonsense  and  understanding  of  the  same 
words  without  any  Equivocation  Mental  Evation  or  Secret  reservation 
whatsoever  and  I  do  make  this  Recognition  Acknowledgment  Abjuration 
Renounciation  and  Promise  heartily  willingly  and  truly.  —So  help  me  God." 

When  this  oath  was  dispensed  with  in  1860,  a  new  one  for 
Councillors  was  substituted. 

The  first  list  of  the  Councillors  in  the  Minute  Book  con- 
tains the  names  of  twenty-one  persons,  but  we  presume  the 
four  in  excess  of  the  number  given  as  the  constitution  of  the 
Council  to  have  been  the  deacons  of  incorporated  trades,  who 
are  so  enumerated  and  designed  regularly  thereafter  along 
with  the  Council.  The  constitution,  as  fixed  by  the  Con- 
vention, continued  to  be  the  constitution  of  the  Council  down 
to  the  year  1852,  when,  by  the  Act  15  and  16  Viet.,  cap.  32, 
it  was  altered,  one  bailie  and  seven  councillors  being  struck 
off,  thus  reducing  the  total  number  to  nine,  at  which  it  now 
stands.  The  qualification  of  councillors  remains  very  much 
as  it  was,  they  requiring  to  reside  or  be  traders  within  the 
bounds  of  the  burgh.  The  ancient  system  of  burgesses — that 
is,  those  who  had  purchased  the  freedom  of  trading  in  the 
burgh,  with  all  the  privileges  thereto  belonging — passed 
away  with  the  Reform  Act  of  1832,  but  the  form  is  still 
so  far  observed  in  connection  with  the  election  of  town 
councillors,  for  each  person  so  appointed  must  take  the 
oath,  and  be  admitted  a  burgess  of  the  burgh,  before  taking 
the  oath  de  fideli  administratione  officii.  Although 

Uisto  ry  of  Sa  i  iquhar.  187 

obviously  it  was  intended  that  the  Council  should  be 
made  up  of  those  who  were  bona,  fide  inhabitants  of  the 
burgh,  we  find  that  a  practice  sprang  up  of  electing  persons 
who  might  have  an  interest,  through  the  possession  of  pro- 
perty, in  the  town,  and  who  came  under  the  designation  of 
"  heretors,"  but  possessed  no  other  qualification.  From 
the  list  which  is  printed  in  the  Appendix,  it  will  be  seen  that 
persons  of  high  distinction — such  as,  the  Duke  of  Queens- 
berry,  Sir  Thomas  Kirkpatrick  of  Cioseburn,  Lord  Elliock, 
James  Fergusson  of  Craigdarroch,  the  Earl  of  Dalkeith,  the 
Marquis  of  Queensberry,  James  M'Turk  of  Steuhouse, 
J.  Macalpine  Leny  of  Dalswinton,  John  Maxwell  of  Ter- 
raughtie,  and  other  territorial  magnates  —  had  seats  at 
the  Council,  as  well  as  numerous  farmers  in  the  neigh- 
bourhood— William  Mackay,  Castlemains;  William  John- 
stone,  Clackleith ;  William  Aird,  Kelloside  ;  Robert  Lorimer, 
Gateside  ;  William  Thomson,  Auchengruith ;  William 
Wilson,  Butknowe,  &c.  It  might,  at  first  sight,  appear 
that  such  an  appointment  would  be  beneath  the  notice 
of  noblemen  and  gentlemen,  many  of  whom  had  no  direct 
interest  in  the  town,  but  the  secret  of  that  interest  may 
be  found  in  the  power  possessed  by  the  Town  Council 
in  the  election  of  a  Member  of  Parliament.  The  appoint- 
ment of  some  of  them  was  doubtless  meant  as  a  personal 
compliment,  and  was  bestowed  with  an  eye  to  favours  to  be 
received  in  return.  In  the  case  of  several  of  these  non- 
resident councillors,  their  connection  was  merely  nominal. 
The  Duke  of  Queensberry 's  lasted  only  for  a  year,  and  the 
attendance  of  several  others  was  very  sparing ;  indeed,  both  the 
Marquis  of  Queensberry  and  Lord  Dalkeith  resigned  on  the 
ground  that  their  other  engagements  prevented  them  from  a 
discharge  of  the  duties,  but  several  did  give  a  fairly  regular 
attendance,  and  continued  in  office  for  years.  This  was  the 
case  with  Lord  Elliock,  who,  however,  though  not  resident  in 
the  burgh,  was  a  near  neighbour  ;  but  the  greatest  influence 
exercised  by  any  councillor  of  this  class  was  by  Major  Crichton, 

188  History  of  Sanquhar. 

Chamberlain  to  the  Duke  of  Buccleuch,  during  his  seven- 
teen years'  provostship,  from  1815  to  1832.  Major  Crichton 
was  a  great  man  in  his  day,  and  his  name  is  still  frequently 
referred  to  by  the  older  people  in  the  district,  for  the  authority 
and  influence  which  he  wielded  over  the  whole  of  Upper 
Nithsdale,  by  reason  of  his  commanding  business  talents- 
The  presence  of  such  a  man  at  the  council  board  of  the  town 
might,  therefore,  have  been  of  inestimable  value  but  for  the 
natural  leaning  which  he  evidently  had  to  study,  first  of  all, 
the  interests  of  his  master,  when  these,  as  occasionally  hap- 
pened, came  into  conflict  with  those  of  the  town.  An 
example  of  this  is  seen  in  the  controversy  that  arose  over 
the  division  of  the  Muir,  where  the  councillor  was  lost  in 
the  factor. 

Not  alone  in  this  way  were  the  Council  brought  into  touch 
with  the  great  ones  of  the  earth.  They  were  possessed  of 
the  patronage  of  two  appointments — which  were  highly 
esteemed  and  much  sought  after — those  of  Commissioner  to 
the  Convention  of  Royal  Burghs  and  of  Commissioner  to  the 
General  Assembly  of  the  Church  of  Scotland. 

The  Commission  to  the  Convention  of  Burghs  was  most 
frequently  conferred  on  the  Provost  (see  Appendix),  but  occa- 
sionally on  a  stranger.  For  several  years  after  1718,  the 
appointment  was  held  by  Mr  George  Irving  of  Newton,  a 
man  evidently  of  great  ability,  to  whom  reference  is  more 
fully  made  elsewhere.  The  Hon.  Patrick  Boyle  of  Shewalton, 
a  lord  of  Session,  sat  for  the  burgh  in  1747  ;  the  Clerks  of 
Drumcrieff  between  1763  and  1769  ;  and  Sir  William  John- 
stone  Hope,  Bart.,  K.C.B.,  in  1816. 

The  list  of  Commissioners  to  the  General  Assembly 
embraces  several  names  of  distinction — the  above  Mr  Irving 
and  the  above  Patrick  Boyle  ;  Charles  Erskine  of  Barjarg, 
Solicitor-General  for  Scotland  ;  George  Jardine,  Professor  of 
Logic  in  Glasgow  University  ;  Archibald  Arthur,  Professor 
of  Moral  Philosophy  there  ;  Sheriff  Veitch  of  Elliock.  The 
last-named  had  the  honour  conferred  upon  him  unsolicited, 

History  of  Sanquhar.  189 

the  Council  being  moved  thereto  solely  by  a  consideration  of 
his  unblemished  reputation  as  a  judge,  and  the  general 
esteem  in  which  he  was  held  as  one  of  the  landed  gentry  of 
the  neighbourhood.  The  honour  thus  freely  conferred  was 
continued  without  interruption  for  22  years,  from  1846  to 
1867.  The  appointment  of  a  commissioner  to  the  Assembly 
had  been  made,  up  to  this  time,  almost  without  fail,  but  the 
majority  of  the  Council  being  now  dissenters,  in  whom  the 
odium  theologicum  was  rather  strongly  developed,  could  riot 
reconcile  it  to  their  conscience  to  have  anything  to  do  with 
the  Kirk,  even  by  such  an  appointment.  The  re-appoint- 
ment of  Sheriff  Veitch  was  opposed,  and  the  name  of  one 
was  substituted  who  they  knew  was  not  likely  to  attend ;  but 
when  the  matter  next  came  up,  they  were  not  content  to 
make  a  sham  appointment  of  this  sort,  but  declined  to  make 
any  appointment  whatever.  The  nomination  continued 
vacant  till  1884,  when  they  agreed,  somewhat  reluctantly,  to 
appoint  the  Rev.  William  Hastie,  "  the  sole  reason,"  so  the 
minute  runs,  "for  allowing  this  appointment  is  that,  Mr 
Hastie  being  a  native  of  the  parish,  they  are  desirous  of 
giving  him  the  opportunity  of  vindicating  himself  in  the 
charges  made  against  him."  These  charges  were  made  by 
the  Foreign  Mission  Committee  of  the  Church  in  connection 
with  his  work  as  Principal  of  the  College  at  Calcutta. 

The  Commissioner  appointed  by  the  Town  Council  to  the 
General  Assembly  was  obliged  to  take  and  subscribe  the 
following  oath  : — 

"I  do  sincerely  own  and  declare  the  Confession  of  Faith  approven  by 
former  General  Assemblies  of  this  Church,  and  ratified  by  Law  in  the  year 
1690,  to  be  the  Confession  of  my  Faith,  and  that  I  own  the  Doctrine 
therein  contained  to  be  true  Doctrine,  which  I  will  constantly  adhere  to, 
as  likeways  that  I  own  and  acknowledge  Presbyterian  Church  government 
of  this  Church  now  settled  by  Law,  by  Kirk  Sessions,  Presbyteries, 
Provintial  Synods,  and  General  Assemblies  to  be  the  only  Government  of 
this  Church,  and  that  I  Submitt  thereto,  Concur  therewith,  and  never 
Endeavour  directly  or  indirectly  the  Prejudice  or  Subversion  thereof, 
And  that  I  shall  observe  uniformity  of  Worship,  And  of  the  Administration 
of  all  publick  ordinances  within  this  Church,  as  the  same  are  at  present 
performed  and  allowed." 

190  History  of  Sanqukar. 


In  connection  with  the  Town  Council  there  was  an  official 
called  the  Dean  of  Guild,  who  acted  in  conjunction  with  a 
court  of  his  own,  not  necessarily  of  councillors,  but  of  skilled 
men  to  assist  him  in  the  discharge  of  his  duties,  and  in 
determining  the  matters  that  came  under  his  jurisdiction. 
Trade  Guilds  were  of  ancient  origin  ;  they  were  anterior  to, 
and  laid  the  foundation  of  municipal  government.  The 
Dean  of  Guild  derives  his  appointment  in  different  ways  in 
different  burghs.  In  large  burghs,  such  as  Edinburgh  and 
Glasgow,  he  is  appointed  still  by  the  incorporated  trades,  and 
has  a  seat  at  the  Town  Council  ex-officio,  but  in  small  burghs 
he  is,  and  always  appears  to  have  been,  a  councillor  appointed 
to  the  office.  The  office  at  one  time  was  regarded  as  one  of 
honour  and  consequence,  for  we  find  that,  in  most  cases,  two 
persons  were  "  listed,"  as  it  was  called,  for  the  provostship, 
who  thereupon  withdrew  from  the  meeting.  When  the 
provost  had  been  appointed,  they  were  called  in,  and  the 
office  of  Dean  of  Guild  was  conferred  upon  the  unsuccessful 
candidate  for  the  provostship,  by  whom  it  was  uniformly 
accepted,  so  that  it  would  appear  that  this  official  was 
regarded  as  next  in  dignity  to  the  provost.  He  was,  as  we 
have  said,  assisted  by  a  certain  number  of  capable  men, 
appointed  by  himself,  and  they  formed  the  Dean  of  Guild 
Court,  of  which  he  was  the  head.  The  powers  and  duties  of 
this  court  were  of  some  importance  at  one  time.  Among 
others,  they  had  the  oversight  of  weights  and  measures  and 
other  matters  relating  to  trade,  and  likewise  had  the  power 
of  settling  disputes  as  to  the  boundaries  of  property,  and 
were  responsible  to  see  that  no  encroachment  took  place  by 
building  along  the  line  of  the  -streets.  In  later  times,  the 
constitution  and  working  of  this  court  have  become  some- 
what obscured  in  the  smaller  burghs.  A  dispute  arose  in 
the  year  1880,  when  the  Dean  asked  the  advice  of  the 
Council  with  regard  to  "a  certain  house  at  Corseburn,  which 

History  of  Sanquhar.  191 

jutted  out  on  the  street  in  an  unseemly  manner,  and  was  at 
present  unroofed  and  being  raised  in  the  walls."  He  was 
defeated  in  an  action  of  interdict  raised  in  the  Sheriff  Court, 
and  now  the  standing  of  the  Dean  and  his  Court  is  in  greater 
doubt  than  ever.  In  the  exercise  of  his  powers  in  deter- 
mining disputes  as  to  boundaries  of  property,  there  were 
certain  officers  of  court  called  "  birleymen  "  (mentioned  in 
1732),  who  appear  to  have  been  petty  officers  appointed  by 
the  Council  to  see  the  orders  of  the  Uean  of  Guild  Court 
given  effect  to.  In  those  days,  when  there  were  no  regular 
fences,  the  boundaries  were  marked  by  large  stones  called 
pitt-stones,  and,  in  the  case  quoted,  it  is  said  that  "  pitt 
stones  are  now  sett  and  Coals  laid  below  the  same."  The 
reason  of  laying  coals  below  the  pitt  or  boundary  stones  was 
probably  for  the  purpose  of  identification.  Before  the  land 
had  been  improved,  boulders  were  not  uncommon,  and,  if  any 
dispute  arose  as  to  which  were  the  pitt  stones,  the  coal  under- 
neath would  determine  the  point.  These  Birleymen  had  to 
give  their  "  solemn  oaths  to  act  faithfully  therein  according 
to  their  knowledge." 


An  important  revenue  was  derived  by  burghs  in  the  olden 
time,  and  down  to  a  very  recent  period,  from  the  exaction  of 
petty  customs  upon  goods  brought  into  or  passing  out  of  the 
burgh.  The  Table  of  Customs  in  this  burgh  was  as  follows — 

For  each  score  of  Horses  or  Mares,  old  or  young — Thirteen  shillings 

four  pennies  Scots  money. 
For  each  score  of  Black  Cattle,  old  or  young — Thirteen  shillings  four 

pennies  Scots. 

For  each  score  of  Sheep  or  Lambs — Three  shillings  four  pennies  Scots. 
For  each  Corded  Pack  of  Goods— Two  shillings  money  foresaid. 
For  each  load  of  Meal  or  other  kind  whatsoever  brought  into  the 

Mercat  for  sale  or  carried  by  the  Burgh- — One  shilling   money 


For  each  Merchant  Stand,  covered — Two  shillings  money  foresaid. 
For  each  Web  of  Cloth  of  whatsoever  kind — Four  pennies   money 

For  each  Spaniol  of  Worsted  of  Yarn,  Linen  or  Woollen— Four  pennies 

money  foresaid. 

192  History  of  Sanquhar. 

For  each  Cart  Load  of  Wine,  Brandy,  or  other  goods — Four  shillings 

money  foresaid. 

For  each  Pack  of  Wool — One  shilling  money  foresaid. 
For  each  Load  of  Beer  or  Malt  imported  into  the  Burgh — One  shilling 

money  foresaid. 

By  an  ordinance  of  1831,  custom  was  not  to  be  leviable  on 
Milk,  nor  on  loads  of  less  than  one  hundredweight.  This 
latter  provision  led,  on  one  occasion,  to  an  amusing  scene. 
A  customer  had  just  had  a  cwt.  of  salt  put  on  his  cart  at  Mr 
Halliday's  shop.  The  town  officer,  old  James  Black,  always 
on  the  outlook,  pounced  upon  him  for  custom.  The  carter 
quietly  opened  the  bag,  and  seized  a  handful  of  the  salt, 
which  he  scattered  on  the  street.  "There,"  said  he,  "it's  not 
a  hundredweight  noo." 

Note, — A  Burgess  was  only  charged  half  dues,  and  Burgesses  residing  in 
the  Newtown,  which  is  outside  the  royalty,  were  accorded  the  same 
privilege,  provided  they  would  serve  as  constables  within  the  burgh  when 

There  were  also  dues  for  the  weighing  of  goods  at  the 
Trone,  which  was  erected  in  1740,  under  the  following 
regulations : — 

Each  Pack  of  Wool  brought  to  the  Burgh  or  to  the  Trone  to  be 

weighted — One  shilling  Scots. 
Each  Stone  of  Wool,  Butter,  Cheese,  Tallow,  Lint,  Hemp,  Tow  or 

Leather,  or  other  goods  sold  at  the  Trone — One  shilling  Scots. 

A  Burgess  was  only  charged  half  dues  on  the  above. 

Each  pound  weight  of  any  of  the  said  goods — Two  pennies  Scots, 
whether  Burgess  or  not. 

The  tacksman  had  to  give  attendance  at  the  Trone  on 
Tuesday  and  Friday  weekly,  and  at  all  other  times  when 
called.  The  revenue  amounted  to  about  £3  per  annum. 

Further,  Meal  brought  in  for  sale  had  to  be  brought  to  the 
Meal  Market,  where  certain  dues  were  also  exacted.  These 
Market  Dues  were  let,  but  did  not  bring  a  large  sum — only 
about  two  guineas  a  year. 

The  Dung  on  the  street  was  also  let,  the  tacksman  being 
bound  to  remove  it  twice  a  week.  It  yielded  a  trifling  sum. 

A  revenue,  amounting  on  the  average  to  about  £13  per 

History  of  Sanquhar.  193 

annum,  was  also  realised  from  Stent  and  Teind,  payable  by 
the  heritors  who  held  the  grassum  of  the  lands,  which  were 
subsequently  alienated  from  the  town  at  the  division  of  the 

Sums  of  money,  being  the  Fees  of  admission  of  Burgesses, 
were  also  continually  falling  into  the  town's  treasury. 
These  fees  varied,  as  already  stated,  from  a  guinea  to  five 
shillings,  but,  in  a  few  cases  of  large  traders,  such  as  John 
Halliday,  the  fee  was  two  guineas. 

There  were  also  Fees  or  Fines  exacted  from  a  class  of 
traders  called  Stallangers,  that  is,  Stallholders,  who,  not 
being  Burgesses  or  Freemen,  set  up  stalls  at  the  market  for 
the  sale  of  goods.  Latterly  they  were  allowed  by  the  Cor- 
poration, on  payment  of  a  certain  fee,  to  trade  in  the  town 
for  a  year,  but  this  payment  had  to  be  repeated,  and  they 
had  none  of  the  other  privileges  of  a  burgess. 

These,  together  with  the  rents  of  small  patches  of  land, 
formed  the  minor  branches  of  income,  the  bulk  of  which  was 
derived  from  the  lands  belonging  to  the  burgh,  lordship  on 
minerals — a  very  lucrative  source,  as  we  elsewhere  see — and 
the  petty  customs.  The  lands  and  minerals  have  already 
been  dealt  with,  and  the  history  of  the  Customs  will  now  be 
traced.  The  Customs  were,  for  a  considerable  time,  let  by 
public  roup,  and  were  farmed  by  all  sorts  of  people — the 
Provost  sometimes,  or  a  trader  of  the  town.  Caution  had  to 
be  found  for  the  rent,  and  this  security  was  not  unnecessary, 
for  occasionally  the  cautioner  had  to  be  called  upon.  In  par- 
ticular years,  however,  the  tacksman  was  allowed  a  rebate, 
owing  to  the  depression  of  trade,  which  of  course  affected 
traffic  and  customs  to  a  very  considerable  extent.  They 
were  let  in  1727  at  Sixty-six  pounds  Scots.  During  the 
first  half  of  the  present  century,  they  varied  from  £18  18s  to 
£35  os — averaging  £27.  In  the  year  1850,  the  Magistrates, 
not  being  able  to  obtain  a  satisfactory  bid  at  the  annual  let 
of  the  Customs,  resolved  to  collect  them  by  some  person  to 
be  employed  for  that  purpose.  This  arrangement  did  not 


194  History  of  SanquJt&r. 

work  well,  and  in  1852  they  were  again  exposed  to  let,  but, 
no  offer  being  forthcoming,  the  Council  resolved  to  employ 
their  own  officer  in  their  collection. 

On  the  opening  of  the  railway  in  1850,  a  question  was  at 
once  raised  as  to  the  liability  of  the  railway  company  to  pay 
custom  on  goods  carried  by  them  through  the  burgh.  The 
company  demanded  a  sight  of  the  charter,  and  a  copy  was 
sent  them,  and  a  deputation  of  the  Council  went  to  Glasgow 
to  discuss  the  matter  with  the  Directors.  The  latter  offered 
an  annual  sum  of  £35,  but  the  Council  stood  out  for  £70. 
It  was  ultimately  adjusted  at  £40,  which  was  increased  after 
five  years  to  £45.  Meanwhile  the  question  of  liability  was 
being  tried  by  an  action  between  the  Edinburgh  and  Glasgow 
Railway  Company  and  the  Burgh  of  Linlithgow,  which 
dragged  its  weary  length  along,  and  was  only  decided  in  the 
House  of  Lords  in  1859.  The  decision  was  in  favour  of  the 
railway  company.  The  contract  for  a  payment  of  £45  per 
annum  for  Jive  years,  entered  into  in  1857  between  the 
Glasgow  and  South- Western  Company  and  the  town,  was 
still  running,  but  the  company  at  once  gave  notice  that,  in 
face  of  the  Liulithgow  decision,  they  would  pay  no  longer. 
The  Council  attempted  to  hold  them  to  the  contract,  but  in 
vain,  and  this  important  source  of  revenue  was  lost.  Though 
the  railway  company  was  thus  freed  from  liability  in  custom 
on  goods  carried  along  their  line  through  the  burgh,  there  was 
still  the  question  of  custom  for,  goods  brought  to  the  railway 
station,  and  delivered  therefrom.  The  company,  encouraged 
by  the  decision  in  the  Linlithgow  case,  refused  to  pay  this 
custom  as  well,  and  an  action  was  raised  by  the  Council,  in 
which  they  were  successful.  A  further  action,  in  vindication 
of  the  town's  rights  had  to  be  raised  at  Ayr  in  1883, 
against  Messrs  Sanger,  circus  proprietors,  who  had  passed 
through  the  burgh  some  days  before,  and  refused  to  pay. 
In  this  action  the  Council  were  also  successful,  but  Mr 
Sanger  had  ample  revenge  five  years  later,  when,  on  pass- 
ing south  through  the  burgh,  and  again  refusing  to  pay,  the 

History  of  Sanqiih ar.  195 

town  officer,  acting  on  instructions,  seized  one  of  the  perform- 
ing horses.  The  incident  occurred  on  a  Sabbath  day,  and 
caused  great  excitement  in  the  town.  In  regard  to  the 
merits  of  the  question,  however,  a  great  and  vital  change 
had  taken  place,  through  the  operation  of  a  clause  in  the 
Roads  and  Bridges  Act,  which  had  been  passed  in  1878,  and 
which  clause,  together  with  others,  was  only  to  come  into 
force  ten  years  after  the  passing  of  the  Act — that  is  to  say,  in 
1888.  This  clause  made  it  appear  at  least  doubtful  whether 
the  burghs  were  entitled  any  longer  to  exact  through-custom. 
The  attention  of  members  of  the  Council  had  been  drawn  to 
the  clause  shortly  after  its  coming'into  force,  and  they  were 
cautioned  to  satisfy  themselves,  lest  their  right  should  one 
day  be  challenged  ;  but  the  caution  was  disregarded,  and  Mr 
Sanger's  refusal  found  them  unprepared  with  legal  advice. 
No  doubt  Mr  Sanger  had  satisfied  himself  of  his  ground,  and 
that  accounted  for  the  significantly  quiet  manner  in  which 
he  allowed  the  officer  to  seize  his  valuable  horse.  The  Town 
Council  speedily  found  that  they  were  wrong,  and  hastened 
to  restore  the  horse  and  pay  all  necessary  costs.  Having 
made  this  reparation,  they  fondly  hoped  they  had  reached 
the  end  of  the  notable  incident,  but  they  were  not  to  be  so 
easily  let  off.  Mr  Sanger  had  been  nursing  his  wrath  since 
his  prosecution  in  1883,  and  now  his  chance  had  come.  The 
Council  had  walked  into  the  trap,  and  he  would  have  his 
revenge.  He  raised  an  action  of  damages,  and  a  process  of 
"  haggling  "  began.  The  Council,  instead  of  making  the  best 
of  a  bad  job  and  getting  the  matter  closed,  acted  in  a  waver- 
ing, undecided  fashion.  They  offered  something  less  than 
Mr  Sanger  demanded,  and  meanwhile  the  law  expenses  were 
mounting  up.  Another  higher  offer  was  made,  to  be  met 
by  a  higher  claim,  founded  on  the  increased  expense  incurred 
by  the  pursuer,  and  so  the  miserable  business  went  on  till,  at 
length,  a  deputation  was  appointed  to  meet  Mr  Sanger's 
agent,  and  effect  a  settlement  somehow.  The  result  was,  the 
Council  had  to  pay  £50  damages,  and  the  whole  expense 

196  History  of  Sanquhar. 

incurred  by  them  amounted  to  about  £70.     Thus  ended  what 
has  been  called  the  famous  circus-horse  case. 

The  Table  of  Customs  was  now  reduced  to  very  small 
dimensions.  All  through-traffic,  whether  by  road  or  rail,  was 
free,  and  the  through-customs  derived  from  the  railway 
company,  and  from  droves  of  cattle  and  sheep,  had  been 
always  the  principal  part.  Now,  all  that  remained  was  that 
derived  from  goods  brought  into  the  town  to  market  or  taken 
out  for  sale.  A  large  part  of  the  officer's  time  was  taken  up 
in  watching  for  the  opportunity  of  picking  up  twopence  now 
and  again.  The  question,  therefore,  became — Was  the  game 
worth  the  candle  ?  and  it  was  taken  up,  and  became  a  burn- 
ing question  both  in  the  Council  and  outside.  The  Council 
were  compelled  to  come  to  a  decision  by  a  notice  from  the 
railway  company,  in  January,  1889,  that  they  would  no 
longer  pay  even  on  the  goods  delivered  from  the  station. 
After  negotiations,  the  company  offered  to  refer  the  matter 
to  eminent  counsel.  The  Town  Council  proposed  a  friendly 
small  debt  action,  which  the  company  declined,  and  repeated 
their  offer  of  arbitration.  Discussion  was  carried  on  from 
meeting  to  meeting  of  the  Council.  After  several  months' 
wrangling,  it  was  proposed  to  continue  the  collection  of 
customs,  but  the  proposal  was  defeated  by  an  amendment 
counselling  delay.  It  was  brought  up  again  at  a  meeting  on 
17th  May,  when  the  opponents  boldly  met  it  with  a  resolu- 
tion "  that  the  Council  abolish  the  custom,"  which  latter  was 
adopted,  and  so  the  final  end  of  this  long  and  bitter  contro- 
versy was  at  last  reached.  The  question  was  argued  both  on 
the  ground  of  principle  and  expediency.  It  was  pointed  out 
that  the  whole  system  of  customs  of  this  descinption  was  out 
of  harmony  with  the  spirit  of  the  times — was,  in  truth,  a  relic 
of  a  pre -reform  age  ;  and  certainly  it  was  a  striking  spectacle 
to  witness  a  council  and  a  community,  who  make  a  boast  of 
their  Liberalism,  clinging  so  tenaciously  to  ancient  privilege, 
so  foreign  to  the  creed  which  they  professed.  But,  apart 
from  principle,  the  maintenance  of  these  imposts  was  ques- 

History  of  Sanquhar.  197 

tionable  upon  economic  grounds.  The  greater  proportion  of 
the  amount  realised  would  now  be  spent  in  the  costs  of 
collection.  Their  abolition  would  enable  the  Council  to 
effect  a  saving  in  their  officer's  wages,  and  this  was  the  view 
which  prevailed,  and  which  gave  the  death-blow  to  these  old 
standing  exactions. 

Having  thus  dealt  with  the  Revenues  of  the  Town  Council, 
let  us  now  turn  to  their  powers  and  duties. 

The  Magistrates  were  clothed  with  powers  of  civil  and 
criminal  jurisdiction.  In  civil  matters,  their  powers  corre- 
sponded very  much  with  those  now  exercised  by  Justices  of 
the  Peace,  and  covered  the  minor  class  of  business  that  now 
falls  to  the  Sheriff.  They  had  the  granting  of  licences  for  the 
sale  of  intoxicating  liquor  in  their  hands  ;  a  power  of  which 
they  appear  to  have  made  free  use,  for  we  find  that  the  num- 
ber of  licensed  houses  in  the  year  1813  was  18  ;  while  those 
holding  ale  certificates  alone,  numbered  21.  These  licence 
holders  were  classified  into  vintners,  change-keepers,  innkeep- 
ers, or  stablers.  Their  aid  was  likewise  invoked  in  the 
recovery  of  small  debts.  In  1718,  there  is  a  minute  that 
warrants  were,  at  the  instance  of  a  creditor,  granted  by  a 
bailie  for  the  arrestmeut  in  the  hands  of  a  third  party  of  funds 
belonging  to  his  debtor.  Their  authority  was  further  exercised 
in  certain  ways,  which  were  quite  conform  to  the  ideas  of 
the  time,  but  to  matters  which  now  appear  to  us  extra- 
ordinary. Thus,  in  the  year  1728,  "the  Magistrates  and 
Council  considering  the  great  straits  and  necessities  that 
Masters  and  Labourers  of  the  ground  are  driven  and  con- 
strained to  by  the  fraud  and  malice  of  servants  who  refuse  to 
be  hired  without  great  and  extraordinary  wages  promised  to 
them  and  cast  themselves  Loose  knowing  that  the  People 
who  have  necessary  to  do  with  Labour  will  be  forced  to  hire 
them  at  daily  and  weekly  wages,  and  such  high  rates  as  they 
please  to  the  great  harm  of  his  Majesty's  Leidges,  And  also 
the  said  Provost  Baillies  and  Council  considering  that  manv 

198  History  of  Sanquhar. 

such  Loose  and  Idle  People  who  ought  to  be  at  service  have 
resorted  to  and  are  daily  resorting  to  this  Burgh  For  Remeed 
Whereof  the  said  Provost  Baillies  and  Council  Do  Hereby 
Discharge  the  haill  Burgesses  and  Inhabitants  within  this 
Burgh  and  territories  thereof  from  Setting  Houses,  giveing 
any  Intertainment,  Lodging,  Succour  or  Relief  to  such  Idle, 
Loose  and  Solitary  men  and  women,  without  first  acquainting 
the  Provost  Baillies  and  Council  and  getting  allowance  from 
them,  therefore  Certifieing  the  Contraveners  that  they  shall 
"be  lyable  in  a  fine  of  ten  merks  Scots  mone}^  for  every 

They  likewise  exercised  a  censorship  on  public  morals.  In 
1727  we  have  this  salutary  enactment : — "  The  Magistrates 
and  Council  ordaine  and  appoint  that  whatsomever  person 
or  persons,  burgesses  or  inhabitants,  within  this  brugh  after 
the  day  and  date  shall  be  found  guilty  and  convicted  of  open 
and  publick  scolding,  railing,  swearing  on  the  public  street  or 
otherways  abusing  of  their  neighbours  within  house  or  other 
people  strangers  or  any  burgess  or  inhabitant  within  this 
brugh,  And  whatsomever  person  or  persons  forsaid  shall  be 
found  guilty  and  convicted  of  habitual  drinking,  cursing  and 
swearing,  and  shall  then  curse  and  abuse  any  of  the  Magis- 
trates, 4Clerk,  Councillors,  Deacons  of  Craft  or  any  other 
Burgess  or  tradesman,  their  families,  or  people  that  are 
strangers  of  good  repute,  he  shall  immediately  after  convic- 
tion be  banished  this  burgh  arid  the  territories  thereof  by 
Haile  of  Drum,  and  shall  lose  the  privileges  and  liberties  of 
the  burgh."  Similar  provisions  follow  for  the  prevention  of 
the  harbouring  of  strangers,  vagrants,  and  suspicious  persons. 

Even  so  late  as  the  year  1838,  there  is  an  ordinance  of  a 
similar  kind,  which  would  not  be  amiss  were  it  enforced  at 
the  present  day.  "  The  Magistrates  and  Council  instruct 
their  officer,  until  he  gets  contrary  orders,  to  prevent  as  much 
as  possible  groups  of  children,  boys  and  girls,  from  collecting 
together  about  the  corners  of  houses  or  on  the  public  streets 
or  lanes  of  the  Burgh,  and  upon  all  occasions  to  disperse 

History  of  Sanqiihar.  199 

them  when  he  finds  them  so  collected,  with  the  view  of 
preventing  them  from  troubling,  annoying,  and  molesting 
the  public  at  large,  as  has  been  much  the  case  of  late  ;  and 
in  the  event  of  any  one  of  them  refusing  to  disperse  when 
desired,  instruct  the  officer  to  bring  them  shewing  such  con- 
tumacy or  caught  in  the  commission  of  any  act  of  molesta- 
tion before  the  Magistrates,  or  Provost,  to  be  dealt  with  by 
Fine  or  Imprisonment  as  may  be  judged  expedient." 

Their  solicitude  for  the  public  welfare  manifested  itself 
not  only  with  regard  to  the  good  manners  of  the  inhabitants, 
but  also  to  their  comfort  in  even  minute  particulars,  for,  in 
1753,  "Two  shillings  were  given  to  James  Kellock,  officer, 
for  expense  of  powder  and  lead  or  otherways  shooting  Dogs 
within  the  Burgh." 

Besides  the  powers  which  they  possessed  in  these  and 
other  civil  matters,  the  Magistrates  also  exercised  a  consider- 
able criminal  jurisdiction.  Courts  were  held  as  occasion 
required,  and  a  burgh  fiscal  was  an  appointment  held  by  one 
or  other  of  the  legal  gentlemen  in  the  place.  Reference  is 
made  in  a  minute  in  1838  to  the  fact  that  "  Mr  Robert 
Dryden,  formerly  writer  in  Sanquhar,  who  has  for  many  years 
held  the  office  of  Burgh  Fiscal,  is  now  unable  longer  to 
discharge  the  duties  of  said  office,  James  Whigham  is 
appointed  in  his  room,  at  a  salary  of  Five  pounds  per 

The  position  and  duties  of  the  Burgh  Officer  are  defined 
in  the  paragraph  under  that  heading.  Here,  however,  it 
may  be  stated  that  he  was  the  jailer  of  the  town,  and  served 
the  warrants  of  the  Magistrates  connected  with  their  whole 
civil  and  criminal  jurisdiction. 

In  addition,  a  body  of  constables  was  regularly  appointed, 
who  could  be  called  upon,  if  necessary,  for  the  maintenance  of 
the  public  peace.  They  received  batons  of  office,  and  were 
allowed  a  small  fee  for  their  services,  their  appointment  being 
for  six  months.  In  1815,  there  is  a  note  that  "  the  Con- 
stables resigned  their  Battons,  as  the  term  of  their  appoint- 

200  History  of  Sanquhar. 

ment  was  elapsed,  and  the  Magistrates  direct  the  Treasurer 
to  pay  to  the  said  constables  the  sums  formerly  allowed  to 
them."  Seven  persons,  whose  names  are  given,  are  then 
appointed  in  their  room,  who  "  being  present,  accepted  of 
their  offices,  and  gave  their  Oath  defideli  in  common  form." 

One  of  the  chief  duties  of  the  Magistrates  in  this  connec- 
tion was,  of  course,  the  preservation  of  good  order  within  the 
burgh,  for  which  they  were  responsible  to  the  Crown,  but 
the}'  likewise  dealt  with  ordinary  police  offences  and  kindred 
matters.  As  an  example,  we  give  the  case  of  two  men,  in  the 
year  1718,  who  are  ordered,  at  the  instance  of  James  Kellock, 
Fiscal  of  Court,  to  appear  "  in  ane  court  to  be  held  within 
the  Tolbooth  of  said  burgh,  for  their  fighting,  strugling, 
batering  or  brusing  ane  another,  and  to  swear  by  the  Law 
of  God."  The  punishment  of  theft  was  to  stand  in  the  Joggs 
(elsewhere  described),  and  to  undergo  a  term  of  imprisonment. 
A  story  is  told  of  a  woman,  who  was  led  through  the  town  by 
the  officer  with  a  halter  round  her  neck,  and  with  a  placard 
on  her  back,  bearing  the  words — "  This  is  a  thief."  This 
latter  mode  of  punishment  was  quite  in  accord  with  a 
system  in  vogue  throughout  the  country,  as  we  learn  from 
the  annals  of  that  period.  It  certainly  was  rough  and  ready, 
but  it  had  this  recommendation,  which  all  punishments 
should  more  or  less  have,  it  was  calculated  to  have  a  deter- 
rent effect  upon  other  offenders. 

The  crime  of  poaching,  too,  came  under  the  cognisance  of 
the  burgh  authorities.  One  William  Kirk,  in  the  year  1719, 
a  "  fowler "  in  Sanquhar,  "  pleads  guilty  of  spoiling  His 
Grace  the  Duke  of  Queen sberry  and  Dover  of  his  game,  and 
is  ordered  to  go  to  John  Dalrymple  of  Waterside,  his  Grace's 
bailly,  and  satisfy  him,  and  that  under  paine  of  one  hundred 
merks  Scots."  Reference  may  also  be  made  to  the  penalty 
attached  to  plucking,  trampling,  or  otherwise  destroying  the 
Pease,  which  the  Magistrates  ordained  should  be  grown  by 
each  heritor  possessed  of  land  on  the  Muir. 

The  smuggling  of  brandy  and  foreign  spirits  seems  to  have 

History  of  Sanquhar.  201 

been  practised  in  the  burgh  to  some  extent  in  last  century, 
and  the  Provost,  Bailies,  Council,  and  Deacons  of  Trades,  in 
1730,  taking  into  consideration  "the  pernitious  effects  of  the 
Clandestine  Importation  and  open  consumption  of  Brandy 
within  this  burgh  and  neighbourhood  thereof,  And  appearing 
evidently  to  them  that  considerable  sums  of  money  are  yearly 
expended  for  purchasing  this  unnecessary  commodity,  And 
being  resolved  for  the  good  of  this  Burgh  to  take  an  Effectual 
Course  for  preventing  and  restraining  such  Courses  for  the 
time  to  come  Do  therefore  statute  and  ordain  That  no  person 
or  persons  within  this  burgh  shall  Import,  Resett,  Sell,  or 
Retail  Brandy  of  Foreign  Spirits  contrair  to  Law,  Certifieing 
hereby  the  Contraveener  or  Contraveeners  That  they  shall 
not  only  be  and  are  hereby  lyable  to  a  Fyne  of  Five  pound 
sterling  for  every  such  offence,  But  also  Declared  Incapable 
of  bearing  any  publick  office  within  the  Burgh  in  time 

Such,  in  general,  were  the  powers  of  criminal  jurisdiction 
with  which  Magistrates  in  burghs  were  clothed,  but,  important 
though  they  were,  they  fell  far  short  of  those  with  which  they 
were  originally  endowed.  A  reference  to  the  Charter  of  the 
burgh  shews  that  they  could  even  inflict  capital  punishment, 
but  it  is  not  to  be  inferred  from  this  that  they  were  empowered 
to  try  prisoners  charged  with  murder,  for  the  death  penalty 
was,  in  those  days,  and  down  to  a  much  later  period,  incurred 
for  such  comparatively  minor  offences  as  forgery,  sheep- 
stealing,  theft,  &c. 

The  exercise  of  criminal  jurisdiction  by  the  Magistrates  of 
Sanquhar  ceased  from  the  year  1838,  when  the  Council 
resolved  not  to  appoint  a  Burgh  Fiscal. 


A  duty  imposed  in  early  days  on  the  Magistrates  was  the 
execution  of  the  Brieves  of  Chancery  (this  is  referred  to  in  the 
Burgh  Charter)  in  connection  with  questions  of  heirship  and 
succession.  The  brief  having  been  received  was  put  into  the 


202  History  of  Sanquhar. 

hands  of  the  Town  Officer,  by  whom  proclamation  was  made 
at  the  Cross  indicating  its  nature,  and  calling  on  all  objectors 
to  appear.  Thereafter,  it  was  remitted  to  a  jury  of  fifteen, 
who,  having  chosen  their  Chancellor,  instituted  an  inquest 
into  the  facts,  examined,  on  oath,  witnesses,  the  officer  with 
regard  to  the  due  service  of  the  brief,  and  persons  who  could 
speak  from  personal  knowledge  of  the  propinquity  of  the 
claimant  to  the  deceased,  whereupon  the  claimant's  declara- 
tion was  read,  that  the  deceased  had  died  "  at  the  faith  and 
peace  of  our  Sovereign  Lord  the  King,  and  that  he  was  his 
nearest  and  lawful  heir,"  and  if  no  objector  appeared,  they 
pronounced  their  verdict,  which  was  reported  to  the  Magis- 
trates, by  whom  it  was  notified  and  forwarded  to  Chancery. 

Further,  the  Magistrates  issued  warnings  to  remove  at  the 
instance  of  landlords  of  house  property.  These  warnings 
were  served  by  the  Town  Officer,  by  marking,  with  a  cross, 
the  door  of  the  person  against  whom  the  warrant  had  been 
granted.  In  the  event  of  these  warnings  being  disregarded,  a 
court  was  held  on  the  Term  day,  when  warrants  of  ejectment 
were  issued,  which  were  executed  in  a  summary  manner. 
This  custom  is  still  in  force. 

Elsewhere,  it  is  stated  that,  in  return  for  the  exceptional 
privileges  and  immunities  conferred  upon  Burghs,  they  were 
liable  for  contributions  to  the  Crown  for  expenses  in  time  of 
war,  in  days  when  there  was  no  regular  standing  army,  and 
for  other  purposes  which  have  been  specified.  These  contri- 
butions were  mainly  made  by  the  Convention  on  behalf  of  the 
whole  burghs,  but  each  burgh  was  individually  liable  for 
certain  contributions,  which  were  raised  by  a  Cess,  correspond- 
ing to  the  modern  word  assessment,  levied  upon  the  Heritors 
within  the  Burgh.  A  Cess  of  this  kind  "for  the  King"  was 
made  in  1719,  and  repeatedly  thereafter. 

The  Burgh  was  also  liable  in  its  proportion  of  the  school- 
master's salary,  and  this  was  frequently  collected  along  with 
the  Cess  for  the  King.  In  the  case  above-mentioned,  "  the 
Council  laid  on  Four  Months'  Cess  to  be  uplifted  out  of  the 

Histomj  of  Sanquhar.  203 

burgh  from  the  Heritors,  three  to  the  King,  and  one  to  Mr 
John  Hunter,  schoolmaster."  The  appointment  of  school- 
master was  in  the  hands  of  the  Duke  of  Queensberry  as  the 
principal  Heritor,  but  the  Town  Council  exercised  some 
influence  in  the  matter.  For  example,  in  1738,  they  made  a 
representation  to  the  Duke  that  "  neither  of  the  two  John 
Hunters  (the  one  a  son  of  James  Hunter  in  Brakenside  and 
the  other  a  son  of  Samuel  Hunter  in  Tower)  Recommended 
are  their  choice  to  be  schoolmaster  of  Sanquhar,  and  a  great 
part  of  the  Council  and  Paroch  declareing  their  regard  for 
William  M'George,  late  schoolmaster,  and  that  they  were 
satisfied  he  were  restored  to  this  office,  they  do  humbly 
propose  him."  The  result  was  that  the.  Duke's  commis- 
sioners gracefully  left  the  appointment  of  schoolmaster  to  the 
free  choice  of  the  Council,  and  M'George  was  restored. 

The  theory  of  the  law  as  to  streets  in  burghs  is, 
that  they  are  held  by  the  Magistrates,  under  the  Crown 
for  the  benefit  of  the  public.  Their  maintenance  and  repair, 
therefore,  fell  upon  the  civic  authorities,  and  it  appears  that 
the  means  adopted  by  them  to  perform  this  duty  was,  in 
former  times,  to  call  in  the  service  of  the  inhabitants.  Thus, 
in  1721,  the  Council  appoint  two  overseers  "  for  mending 
and  making  good  the  King's  highway  within  the  Territories 
of  the  Burgh  of  Sanquhar,  and  do  hereby  order  and  ordaine 
all  Heritors,  Burgesses,  and  Inhabitants  within  the  burgh  to 
attend  three  full  days  as  duly  advertised  for  that  effect  to 
Mend  the  Highways  and  to  furnish  all  necessar  work,  under 
penalty  of  eighteen  shillings  Scots  for  ilk  deficient  person  ilk 
day."  The  first  paving  of  the  street  took  place  in  1728. 
The  following  is  the  minute  thereanent  : — "  The  Provost, 
Baillies  and  Council  considering  the  Inconveniency  and  loss 
the  Burgh  sustains  through  the  Badness  of  their  Causay, 
Therefore  they,  with  the  unanimous  advice  and  consent  of 
the  haill  Heretors  and  Burgesses  of  this  present,  do  appoint 
and  ordain  that  the  publick  street  of  the  said  Burgh  be 
causayed,  And  for  that  end  appoint  that  each  inhabitant  who 

204  History  of  Sanquhar. 

hath  keeped  a  Horse  for  half  ane  year  by  gone  shall  be 
oblidged  to  lead  a  Rood  of  Stones  for  the  said  Causay  betwixt 
and  the  first  of  March  next  to  come,  and  the  Causaying  to 
be  begun  against  the  said  first  of  March  next,  And  each 
person  oblidged  by  this  act  to  lead  a  Rood  of  Stones  failing 
to  do  the  same  in  the  terms  mentioned  shall  be  lyable  and  is 
hereby  fined  in  six  pounds  Scots  money  to  be  applied  for  lead- 
ing the  said  rood  of  stones;  And  appoint  .  .  Stentmaster, 
for  stenting  the  said  Burgh  proportionally  according  to  their 
Interest  and  ability  for  raising  a  fund  for  working  the  said 
Causay,  and  appoint  a  stent-roll  to  be  made  up  accordingly." 
In  December  of  that  year  a  contract  was  entered  into  "  with 
James  Miller  and  Alexander  Kay,  both  masons  and  causayers 
in  Kilsyth  for  to  work  the  said  causay  as  follows,  viz. : — The 
said  contractors  are  to  redd  the  ground  and  lay  a  sufficient 
causay  full  Five  Elves  brode  upon  the  publick  street  of  this 
Burgh  from  the  Townhead  to  near  the  Crossknow  being 
about  Fifty  Roods  of  Causay  or  thereby  ....  and  the 
Town  is  to  furnish  stones,  sand,  and  other  materials  neces- 
sary, and  to  give  ready  service  to  the  Contractors,  and  to  pay 
them  three  pounds,  six  shillings  and  eight  pennies  Scots  money 
for  each  rood."  A  subsequent  minute  states  the  cost  to  have 
been  one  hundred  and  twenty-eight  pounds,  fourteen  shil- 
lings Scots,  the  quantity  proving  much  less  than  had  been 

In  1789,  "  the  Magistrates,  considering  that  there  is  an 
application  to  be  made  to  Parliament  next  session  for  a  Bill 
for  making  a  Turnpike  road  from  the  confines  of  the  County 
of  Ayr  by  this  Town,  Dumfries  and  Annan  towards  Graitriey 
which  will  require  a  considerable  sum  to  compleat  the  same 
They  Hereby  Impower  the  Provost  to  subscribe  for  one  sum 
of  one  hundred  pounds  sterling  for  the  said  Road."  Prior  to 
this  time,  the  provisions  for  the  maintenance  of  highways 
were  very  indefinite,  but,  during  the  last  thirty  years  of  the 
eighteenth  century,  there  was  a  perfect  spate  of  Acts  of  Par- 
liament for  this  purpose.  So  far  as  this  district  was  concerned, 

History  of  Sanquhar.  205 

a  service  of  the  highest  value  and  importance  was  rendered 
voluntarily  by  the  Duke  of  Queensberry,  who,  towards  the 
beginning  of  last  century,  constructed,  in  a  great  measure  at 
his  own  expense,  twenty-two  miles  of  road  through  his  estate 
from  Thornhill  to  the  borders  of  Ayrshire,  so  that,  through 
His  Grace's  enlightened  policy,  Upper  Nithsdale,  for  a  whole 
century,  enjoyed  an  advantage  in  this  respect  denied  to 
many  districts  of  the  country. 

An  Act  was  passed  in  1777,  which  constituted  Road  Dis- 
tricts, the  parishes  of  Sanquhar,  Kirkconnel,  Durisdeer, 
Morton,  Closeburn,  and  Penpont  forming  the  sixth  division, 
but,  while  providing  for  the  improvement  of  the  roads  in 
Annandale,  it  made  no  similar  provision  so  far  as  regarded 
Nithsdale,  and  it  seems  to  have  been  to  supply  this  defect 
that  the  above-mentioned  Bill  was  brought  in  in  1790.  The 
turnpike  roads  were  maintained  by  the  s}rstem  of  Tolls 
which  was  set  up  at  this  period.  That  portion  which  passed 
through  the  town  was  always  maintained  by  the  Town 
Council.  We  have  shewn  when  it  was  first  causewayed,  and 
much  expense  was  incurred  in  its  repair  from  time  to  time. 
There  is  little  doubt  that  it  ran,  at  one  time,  at  a  lower  level, 
in  fact,  that  it  dipped  down  to  the  Corseburu,  which  then  ran 
across  the  road,  but  that  a  great  improvement  was  effected  by 
the  cutting  through  of  the  Crossknowe,  and  the  levelling  up  of 
the  ground  at  the  Corseburn.  This  is  confirmed  by  the  fact 
that  the  old  houses  along  the  road,  at  this  point,  were  at  a 
lower  level  than  the  road  itself,  and  one  had  to  step  down 
into  them.  Conclusive  proof  of  the  fact  was  at  length  forth- 
coming when  the  common  sewer  was  constructed  in  1877. 
When  passing  this  point,  two  distinct  pavements  or  cause- 
ways were  laid  bare,  which  had  been  simply  covered  at  two 
successive  periods  when  this  levelling  up  process  had  taken 
place.  An  Act  was  passed  in  1865  for  the  mauageaient  of 
the  whole  roads  in  the  county  by  divisions,  conferring  powers 
of  assessment  for  the  purpose,  and  reserving  to  the  Trustees 
the  discretionary  power  to  continue  or  abolish  the  Tolls  on 

206  History  of  Sanquhar. 

the  Turnpike  Roads.  The  Trustees  of  this  district  wisely 
chose  the  latter  alternative,  and,  henceforth,  these  vexatious 
interruptions  were  finally  removed.  In  1871,  the  Magistrates 
petitioned  the  Trustees  to  take  over  the  management  of  the 
roads  in  the  burgh,  and  this  was  done,  the  Council  under- 
taking, on  their  part,  "  to  sweep  the  streets  as  heretofore." 
Immediately  on  this  being  arranged,  the  Trustees  ordered  the 
old-fashioned  causeway  to  be  taken  up,  and  the  roadway 
macadamised  in  a  manner  to  bring  it  into  uniformity  with 
the  rest  of  the  road. 

A  change  was  made  in  the  part  of  the  turnpike  road 
between  Sanquhar  and  Kirkconnel  in  the  years  1824-1826. 
Prior  to  that  time,  the  road  was  what  is  now  called  the  "  old 
road" — that  is,  the  road  leading  to  Crawick  Mill.  At  certain 
parts  it  was  narrow  and  very  steep.  The  bridge  over 
Crawick,  which  still  stands,  is  one  of  the  old-fashioned, 
narrow,  high-backed  sort.  The  road  passed  thence  due 
north,  and,  swinging  round  behind  Whitehall  farmhouse,  made 
a  sharp  turn  to  the  left,  proceeding  thence  in  a  straight 
line  past  Gateside.  The  new  road  commencing  just  behind 
the  Town  Hall,  inclines  to  the  left  for  100  yards  or  so,  turns 
sharp  to  the  right,  and  heads  straight  for  Whitehill,  thus 
passing  through  the  lower  lands,  and  avoiding  the  hills  which 
the  old  road  encountered.  It  cuts  through  the  Manse 
avenue  about  the  centre,  and  is  carried  over  the  Crawick  by 
a  good  bridge,  about  300  yards  lower  down  than  the  old 
one,  and  joins  the  main  road  a  little  further  north.  This 
was  a  great  improvement,  and  cost  the  Road  Trustees  nearly 

In  addition  to  these  obligations  which  were  laid  upon  them, 
the  Magistrates  voluntarily  undertook  measures  which 
seemed  likely  to  promote  the  prosperity  of  the  town,  or 
which  the  circumstances  of  the  people  demanded.  We  have 
already  seen  that,  during  a  great  dearth  and  scarcity  which 
occurred  in  the  year  1812,  they  secured  a  supply  of  meal  for 
the  use  of  the  inhabitants,  which  they  sold  at  a  sacrifice  in 

History  of  Sanquhar.  207 

price,  spending  in  this  way  over  £70  ;  and  that  they  seldom 
failed  to  respond  to  the  repeated  appeals  that  were  made  to 
them  by  the  unemployed  weavers.  In  the  year  1814,  they 
paid  "  for  Premiums  and  other  expenses  attending  establish- 
ing of  a  Public  Market "  the  large  sum  of  £175  18s  Id. 
There  had  always  been  fair  days  in  the  burgh,  the  right  to 
hold  them  being  conferred  by  the  Charter,  but  this  entry  in 
the  accounts  points,  in  all  probability,  to  the  origin  of  the 
great  Lamb  and  Wool  fair  held  in  July,  which  grew  in 
importance,  till  latterly  it  was^  regarded  as  second  only  to 
that  of  Inverness.  These  two  markets  occurring  early  in  the 
season  give  the  first  indication  of  the  general  average  of 
prices  that  are  likely  to  prevail  during  the  autumn  sales. 
Sanquhar  is  what  is  called  a  "character"  market,  that  is,  the 
stocks  are  not  shewn,  but  are  bought  and  sold  by  the  repu- 
tation which  they  severally  have  acquired  among  dealers.  In 
the  prosperous  times  about  the  year  1872,  it  is  said  that 
transactions  took  place  at  the  Sanquhar  market  which 
represented  no  less  a  sum  than  one  hundred  thousand 
pounds.  At  first,  there  was  held  on  this  market  day  a  show 
of  sheep  stock,  tups,  &c.,  for  which  premiums  were  offered, 
and  this  explains  the  mention  of  premiums  in  the  above 
expenditure.  In  the  Dumfries  Magazine  of  1826,  there  is  a 
notice  of  "  the  Tup  show  held  at  the  July  Market,  at  which 
prizes  were  given  for  the  improvement  of  the  breed,  when 
the  following  were  the  prize-takers  : — For  Blackfaced,  Mi- 
Kennedy,  Tynron  Kirk  ;  and  for  Cheviots,  Mr  M'Turk,  Kirk- 
land,  Kirkmichael  ;"  so  that  it  would  appear  that  the  com- 
petition was  open,  and  not  merely  local.  The  Council 
continued  to  contribute  £4  per  annum  for  "  Tup  Premiums 
down  to  the  year  1842."  In  truth,  the  fair  or  market  was 
called  the  Tup  Fair,  a  name  to  which  many  of  the  older 
people  adhere  to  this  day. 

The  fairs  authorised  by  the  Charter  were  latterly  held 
quarterly,  and  in  1858  the  Council,  to  remove  the  uncertainty 
that  then  prevailed  as  to  the  days  on  which  they  should  be 

208  History  of  Sanquhar. 

held,  ordained  "that  they  be  on  the  13th  day  of  February, 
May,  August,  and  November,  if  the  13th  falls  on  a  Friday, 
if  not,  on  the  first  Friday  of  the  month  after  that  date." 

Another  effort  of  a  similar  kind  was  made  by  the  Council 
in  1833,  when  "  being  of  opinion  that  Sanquhar  is  a  very 
likely  place  for  establishing  a  pork  market,  weekly  on  the 
Tuesdays,  the  Council  resolve  that  an  attempt  should  be 
made  to  set  a  market  on  foot  on  that  day  of  the  week,  and 
to  give  from  the  Burgh  funds  one  sovereign  to  the  individual 
who  shall  sell  at  it  the  greatest  quantity  of  pork  carcasses 
during  the  season,  and  another  sovereign  to  the  individual 
who  at  it  shall  purchase  the  greatest  quantity  of  pork  car- 
casses during  the  season."  The  premiums  of  a  sovereign 
were  paid  once,  and  only  once,  and  the  attempt  to  establish 
the  market  proved  abortive. 

The  Council  shewed  their  interest  in  the  cause  of  educa- 
tion, by  giving  a  room  in  the  Council  house,  free  of  rent,  "for 
the  use  of  a  school,  as  an  encouragement  to  teachers  to  settle 
in  the  town."  It  was  here  that  school  was  first  kept  by  Mr 
Josiah  Lorimer,  who  was  afterwards  appointed  the  first 
teacher  of  the  Crichton  Endowed  School.  Further,  in  1831, 
they  conferred  free  education  upon  twenty  children  of  poor 
parents  in  the  Burgh  and  Newtown  of  Sanquhar,  the 
nomination  being  left  to  the  three  clergymen  of  the  town, 
Messrs  Montgomery,  Reid,  and  Simpson — Mr  Montgomery 
to  name  eight,  and  the  others  six  each,  the  one-half  to  be 
taught  by  Mr  Henderson,  parochial  teacher,  and  the  other 
half  by  Mr  Lorimer,  who  were  required  to  make  a  quarterly 
report  on  the  attendance  of  said  free  scholars.  This  grant  of 
free  education  was  continued  for  years,  until  the  Crichton 
School  was  established,  where  provisions  of  a  similar  kind 
were  made. 

They  also  gave  donations  to  national  movements ;  thus 
they,  in  the  stormy  days  of  '98,  in  response  to  an  appeal  by 
the  Lord-Lieutenant  of  the  County,  subscribed  Ten  Guineas 
to  the  voluntary  fund  to  be  raised  for  the  defence  of  the 

History  of  Sanquhar.  209 

country.  They  voted  a  similar  sum  in  1815  "towards  the 
Widows  and  Orphans  of  the  Killed  and  Wounded  at  the 
Battle  of  Waterloo ;"  and  in  1854,  Five  Guineas  to  the  Patriotic 
Fund  "for  the  relief  of  the  Widows  and  Children  of  the 
Soldiers  and  Sailors  engaged  at  the  seat  of  the  (Crimean) 


The  office  of  Town  Clerk,  though  always  necessary,  did 
not,  in  the  early  days  of  the  burgh,  entail  much  work,  the 
business  of  the  Council  being  entirely  local,  and  quite  simple 
in  character.  The  Clerk's  salary  was  consequently  very 
small.  It  was  first  fixed  at  one  pound  per  annum,  and 
continued  at  that  figure  down  to  the  year  1792,  when  the 
Council,  "  sensible  of  the  very  great  trouble  attendant  on 
the  office  and  Importance  of  the  Trust  think  themselves 
warranted  to  grant  an  Augmentation  more  particularly  as 
the  Revenue  of  the  town  is  in  a  most  flourishing  state  at 
present,"  increased  the  Clerk's  salary  to  Five  Guineas  ;  and 
further  ordained  "  that  the  dues  of  each  Burgess  Ticket  shall 
in  time  coming  be  two  shillings  and  sixpence  stg.  instead  of 
one  shilling  stg.,  the  former  allowance,  from  the  Considera- 
tion that  Wax,  Vellum,  and  Parchment  are  Considerably 
increased  of  late  years  and  that  the  Town  Clerk  was  rather 
and  has  been  for  some  time  past  a  Loser  than  a  gainer  in 
this  article."  Further,  "they  approve  of  the  act  of  the 
Council  of  the  nomination  of  the  present  Town  Clerk  at 
Michaelmas  1789  in  its  fullest  Extent  with  this  addition  if 
not  sufficiently  secure  by  that  act  of  Council  that  he  be  now 
appointed  Town  Clerk  ad  Vitam  aut  Culpam,  and  they 
therefore  Nominate,  constitute  and  appoint  him  Town  Clerk 
during  all  the  days  of  his  life  accordingly  with  every  Emolu- 
ment, privilege  and  pertinent  belonging  to  said  office,  and 
that  in  the  most  free  and  absolute  manner,"  &c.  In  this 
portentous  minute  we  detect  the  hand  of  the  crafty  lawyer. 
Taking  the  Council  when  they  are  in  the  humour — in  a 


210  History  of  Sanqukar. 

generous  mood  begotten  of  the  good  times  on  which  they  had 
fallen — he  draws  their  attention  to  his  miserably  inadequate 
salary,  and  at  once  they  respond  in  the  most  handsome 
manner,  increasing  it  from  a  pound  to  five  guineas 
— guineas,  be  it  observed,  a  denomination  of  money  so  dear 
to  the  legal  mind.  A  similarly  substantial  increase  in  the 
table  of  fees  was  granted  ;  for  the  appeal  ad  misericordiam, 
founded  on  wax  and  vellum,  was  irresistible — the  losses  of 
the  poor  town-clerk  over  his  wax  would  have  melted  the 
hardest  heart.  But  the  best  of  all  is  to  come.  Hitherto 
he  has  had  to  wait  the  beck  and  nod  of  their  worships — to 
watch  the  shifting  breeze,  not  as  now-a-days  of  popular 
opinion,  but  of  power  and  influence  within  the  Council 
itself,  and  to  trim  his  sails  accordingly.  Now  he  is 
to  be  lifted  to  a  higher  plane  of  official  standing.  The 
Provost,  uprising,  proposes  to  dispense  for  the  future  with 
the  trouble  of  the  annual  appointment  of  their  clerk.  His 
(the  Clerk's)  father  had  served  the  Council  for  a  whole 
generation  ;  the  son  was  a  worthy  successor,  and  possessed 
their  entire  confidence.  Besides,  he  bore  the  great  name  of 
Crichton.  Why  not  appoint  him  for  life  ?  The  Provost's 
suggestion  is  received  with  a  chorus  of  approval,  and  the 
thing  is  done.  Now  the  wily  clerk  sets  himself  to  frame  a 
Minute,  and  puts  into  it  all  that  he  knows  to  make  it  binding 
and  irrevocable.  When  the  Council  has  dispersed,  the  Clerk 
steps  out  to  the  street  holding  his  head  as  high,  and  carrying 
himself  with  as  dignified  a  port,  as  the  Provost  himself. 
But  we  know  what  the  national  poet  has  said  of  "  the  best 
laid  schemes  of  mice  and  men,"  and  so  it  proved  in  this  case. 
For  a  few  years  only  was  the  Clerk  allowed  to  enjoy  his 
position  of  security — buttressed  with  his  ad  vitam  aut 
culpdm.  In  the  year  1805,  the  Council  challenge  the 
validity  of  the  minute  of  1792,  and  restore  the  status  quo 
ante.  The  Clerk  at  once  puts  himself  on  his  defence. 
"The  said  John  Crichton  (so  runs  the  minute)  abides  and 
holds  by  his  nomination  in  the  year  one  thousand  seven 

History  of  Saiiqiihar.  211 

hundred  and  ninety-two,  and  Protests  against  any  alteration 
of  that  solemn  act  of  Council  made  in  said  year,  and  takes 
Instruments  and  craves  Extracts."  The  struggle  is  renewed 
at  next  annual  election  in  1806.  It  is  known  in  the  town 
that  a  "scene"  is  likely  to  take  place,  and  a  crowd  of  citizens 
attend  the  meeting  of  the  Council.  This  is  the  first  instance 
of  the  public  being  admitted  to  the  Council  meetings,  which 
were  strictly  private,  the  members  even  being  sworn  to  secrecy. 
The  Minute  continues — "Thereafter  the  Council  proceeded  to 
nominate  a  person  as  their  clerk  for  the  ensuing  year,  when 
John  Crichton,  their  late  clerk  (this  was  the  form  of  expres- 
sion in  use  in  the  case  of  a  re-appointment),  was  proposed 
and  unanimously  agreed  to  by  the  whole  members  present, 
in  their  face  and  in  the  face  of  a  large  meeting  positively 
refused  to  obey  the  order  given  him — for  which  reason  the 
Council  were  obliged  to  employ  another  person  to  write  the 
same,  and  which  person  is  Ebenezer  Hislop,  surgeon,  Thornhill. 
(Signed,  Ebenr.Hislop)."  The  above  is  in  Hislop's  handwriting. 
The  Council  then,  with  an  exercise  of  patience,  or  restrained, 
perhaps,  by  misgivings  as  to  the  soundness  of  their  position, 
hand  back  the  minute  book  to  the  recalcitrant  clerk,  who 
thereupon  adds  the  following  paragraph  : — "  The  said  John 
Crichton  abides  by  his  Election  of  Town  Clerk  as  confirmed 
to  him  by  a  solemn  act  of  Council  at  Michaelmas  1792,  and 
Protests  agt  any  new  Election,  being  quite  contrary  to  Law 
and  flying  in  the  face  of  a  solemn  act  of  Council."  We  can 
fancy  what  a  storm  was  this.  Both  parties  recognised  the 
importance  of  the  principle  at  stake,  and  fought  with  deter- 
mination, and  we  cannot  but  admire  the  courage  with  which 
the  Clerk,  standing  alone,  sought  to  maintain  his  position 
against  an  united  Council,  backed  up  by  popular  opinion. 
The  odds  were  too  heavy,  and  so  we  find  that,  after  the  lapse 
of  another  year,  he  tenders  his  resignation  in  the  following 
letter :—"  Sanquhar,  5th  Oct.,  1807. — Gentlemen,  From 
many  circumstances,  quite  unnecessary  to  mention,  I  hereby 
resign  the  office  of  Town  Clerk  conferred  upon  me  for  life, 

212  History  of  Sanquhar. 

and  held  by  me  for  the  last  eighteen  years,  and  from  the 
Property  and  Interest  I  hold  in  the  Borough,  no  person  will 
rejoice  more  than  myself  to  see  a  proper  Person  fill  the  office, 
than  what  nothing  can  be  more  essential  for  the  welfare  and 
prosperity  of  the  Burgh.  Every  Book  and  Paper,  &c.,  con- 
nected with  the  office  is  ready  to  be  delivered  up  upon 
Inventory  and  Receipt."  This  letter  does  the  Clerk  the 
highest  credit.  The  "  many  circumstances  "  referred  to  as 
causing  his  resignation  can  be  readily  imagined.  It  was  in 
the  power  of  the  Council  to  make  the  Clerk's  life,  in  an 
official  sense,  unbearable,  and  this  would  appear  to  have  been 
done.  He  merely  touches  with  a  quiet  dignity  on  his  long 
services,  maintaining  at  the  same  time  his  view  as  to  the 
terms  of  his  appointment,  and  then,  with  excellent  spirit, 
free  from  all  feeling  of  resentment  on  account  of  the  treat- 
ment he  had  had  to  endure,  he  gracefully  expresses  his  good 
wishes  for  the  welfare  and  prosperity  of  the  town.  The 
Council  should  not  have  been  outdone  in  courtesy,  but  the 
spirit  they  exhibit  marks  a  striking  contrast.  The  Minute 
simply  bears  that  they  "  consider  said  Letter,  accept  of  said 
Resignation,"  and  then  they  proceeded  to  the  election  of  a 
successor.  However  he  comported  himsel  while  the  struggle 
lasted,  the  Clerk,  though  practically  defeated,  came  out  of  it 
with  much  better  grace  than  his  opponents. 

The  decision  in  the  case  of  Simpson  v.  Todd,  in  1824, 
which  settled  authoritatively  the  tenure  of  office  of  a  town- 
clerk,  shews  that,  apart  altogether  from  the  terms  of  appoint- 
ment on  which  he  relied,  Crichton  was  in  the  right,  and  that 
he  could,  had  he  chosen  to  appeal  to  the  Court,  have  turned 
the  tables  effectually  on  the  Council.  In  that  case  the  Lord 
President  (Hope)  observed,  and  it  was  concurred  in  by  the 
other  judges,  "that  it  was  inconsistent  with  law  to  elect  a 
town-clerk  during  pleasure  ;  that  he  was  a  public  officer, 
entrusted  with  the  performance  of  important  public  duties ; 
and  that  he  ought  not  to  be  under  the  apprehension  that  he 
was  liable  to  be  dismissed  at  the  pleasure,  or  perhaps  the 

History  of  Sanquhar.  213 

caprice,  of  the  Council."  This  decision  does  not  seem  to 
have  been  known  to  the  town-clerk  of  Sanquhar  till  the  year 
1852,  for,  down  to  that  year,  he  is  continued  in  office  by 
express  minute  after  each  annual  election.  The  salary  of 
the  town-clerk  was  increased  to  ten  guineas  at  the  appoint- 
ment of  William  Smith  to  the  office  in  1810,  and  it  has 
continued  at  that  figure  ever  since.  Of  course,  the  Clerk  is 
entitled  to  charge  for  professional  work  done  for  the  Council 
outside  the  sphere  of  his  clerical  duties.  This  account  he 
calls  his  business  account,  and  it  amounted  in  some  years  to 
a  heavy  sum.  The  Council  in  the  year  1882  came  to  an 
agreement  with  him  that  he  should  receive  a  regular  annual 
allowance  of  five  guineas  for  this  description  of  work.  In  1852 
there  is  a  minute  that  the  Council  "  continue  Mr  Macqueen, 
Town  Clerk,  to  be  Factor  for  the  Burgh  for  uplifting  the 
rents  and  revenues  of  the  Burgh  as  formerly,  and  upon  the 
same  terms."  The  arrangement  prior  to  that  time  as  to  this 
factorship  seems  to  have  rested  on  a  tacit  understanding,  for 
this  is  the  first  mention  of  the  matter  to  be  found  in  the 
minutes.  The  commission  charged  was  2|  per  cent.,  and 
appears  to  have  been  first  paid  from  1848,  down  to  1858, 
when  it  ceased,  the  duties  in  question  being  now  discharged 
by  the  Town  Treasurer. 


The  nature  and  duties  of  this  office  have  undergone  con- 
siderable change  in  the  course  of  time.  In  the  year  1804, 
the  holder  is  described  as  "  Town  Officer,  Billet  Master, 
Keeper  of  the  Town  Clock,  and  Lamplighter,"  but  the  office 
embraced  a  great  deal  more  than  that,  so  long  as  the  Magi- 
strates possessed  their  criminal  jurisdiction.  The  officer 
acted  as  the  jailer,  he  served  all  the  notices  and  executed 
the  warrants  of  the  Court,  and  performed  other  duties  which 
now  devolve  upon  a  police  constable.  In  1747,  the  salary 
attaching  to  the  office  was  ten  shillings  a  year.  It  is  evident 
that  at  one  time  the  officer  had  an  official  coat,  for  we  have, 

214  History  of  Sanqukar. 

in  1807,  a  payment  of  £2  15s  8d  "  for  a  coat  for  the  Town 

Some  notable  characters  have  filled  this  office  at  one  time 
or  another.  The  first  to  claim  attention  is  William  Kellock, 
who  flourished  in  the  early  part  of  last  century.  The  first 
mention  of  his  name  is  in  1718,  where  we  learn  something 
of  his  official  character,  for  we  read  that  "  the  Magistrates 
and  Council,  considering  the  good  service  done  by  William 
Kellock,  officer  of  the  burgh,  cancel  and  discharge  him  of 
what  Feu  duty  he  is  owing  preceding  this  date  to  the  burgh 
for  his  house  and  yeard  within  the  said  burgh."  Our  interest 
is  greatly  increased  in  this  worthy  officer  by  a  notice,  taken 
from  the  Edinburgh  Evening  Oourant,  of  April  14,  1743, 
to  the  following  effect  : — "  Thursday  last,  died  at  Sanquhar, 
William  Kellock,  aged  111  years.  He  served  the  town  as 
one  of  their  common  officers  96  years,  and  his  son,  now  living, 
has  served  in  the  same  station  70  years.  He  was  a  very 
honest  man,  had  his  senses  to  the  last,  and  never  made  use 
of  spectacles."  We  would  fain  have  allowed  this  interesting 
paragraph  to  pass  unchallenged,  but  cannot  conscientiously. 
Happily,  nothing  can  be  said  against  the  good  name  with 
which  he  is  handed  down  to  posterity,  but  there  are  circum- 
stances which  cast  grave  doubt  upon  the  fabulous  age  here 
attributed  to  him,  for,  we  find  that,  in  1730,  just  thirteen 
years  before  his  death,  his  name  is  mentioned  in  the  Council 
Minute  book  as  a  witness  before  the  Dean  of  Guild  Court  in 
the  case  of  a  disputed  march,  where  he  is  described  as 
"  William  Kellock,  present  of  the  age  of  eighty  years  or 
thereby."  The  "  or  thereby  "  might  be  allowed  to  cover  a 
good  deal,  but  scarcely  so  much  as  eighteen  years — the 
difference  between  the  one  account  and  the  other  of  his  age 
— and  we  fear  the  belief  in  this  centenarian  must  be  given 
up.  Be  that  as  it  may — centenarian  or  no  centenarian — he 
worthily  heads  the  list  of  the  town-officers,  so  far  as  they 
are  made  known  to  us  by  the  burgh  records. 

The  next  to  be  noticed  is  Robert  Dargavel,  who  filled  the 

History  of  Sanquh  ar.  215 

office  for  the  long  period  of  twenty-eight  years — from  1798 
to  1826.  Robert  was  a  weaver  by  trade.  He  was  a  tall, 
muscular  man,  with  a  commanding  voice,  and  was  the  terror 
of  all  the  youngsters  about  the  place  ;  and  yet,  masterful 
officer  though  he  was,  he  suffered  a  grievous  humiliation  at 
the  hands  of  a  woman.  It  came  about  in  this  wise — The 
woman,  ordered  to  jail  for  an  offence,  was  in  the  charge  of 
the  officer.  The  two — officer  and  prisoner — had  just  got 
inside  the  prison,  when  the  latter,  by  a  dexterous  manoeuvre, 
got  between  the  officer  and  the  door,  glided  swiftly  out, 
closed  the  door,  turned  the  key  in  the  lock,  and  made  off. 
The  consternation  and  chagrin  of  the  officer  can  be  imagined. 
We  are  surprised  to  find  that  the  Magistrates,  in  conse- 
quence, dismissed  Robert  from  his  office.  The  minute  runs 
that  they  "taking  into  their  consideration  the  very  criminal 
Neglect  of  Robert  Dargavel  present  town  officer  in  this  town 
in  lately  allowing  Christian  M'Lean  a  prisoner  thro  gross 
negligence  escape  out  of  the  Jail  of  this  Burgh,  Therefore 
owing  to  his  gross  fault  and  neglect  in  all  respects  so  Injurious 
to  the  Interests  of  this  Burgh  unanimously  have  dismissed 
and  do  hereby  dismiss  him  from  his  present  office  of  Town 
Officer  and  Jailor."  Had  the  Magistrates  not  been  dead  to 
all  sense  of  humour,  they  could  not  have  taken  such  a  solemn 
view  of  the  circumstances.  Their  sentence  was  altogether 


too  hard  upon  the  poor  officer,  who  must  have  been  sufficiently 
punished  by  the  chaff  to  which  he  would  be  subjected  by  the 
townspeople.  It  is  gratifying,  however,  to  know  that,  after  a 
short  interval,  he  was  restored  to  his  office,  which  thence- 
forward he  continued  to  exercise  till  the  day  of  his  death. 

He  was  succeeded  by  Sergeant  Andrew  Thomson,  nick- 
named "  Beagle  Andrew,"  and  sometimes  "  Greenback,"  from 
the  fact  that  he  wore  a  green  coat.  The  sergeant  was  a  fine 
strapping  officer,  over  six  feet  in  height.  He  had  served  his 
time  in  the  army — was  one  of  the  famous  Scots  Greys  who 
fought  at  Waterloo,  and  who  elicited  the  admiration  of  the 
great  Napoleon,  both  for  their  soldierly  bearing  and  their 
gallantry  in  action. 

216  History  of  Sanquhar. 

Coming  down  to  a  later  time,  we  make  the  acquaintance 
of  another  officer  who  merits  particular  notice — viz.,  James 
Black,  than  whom  no  Corporation  ever  had  a  more  devoted 
and  trustworthy  servant.  Diligence  and  fidelity  marked  the 
performance  of  all  his  work,  and  notably  in  the  collection  of 
custom.  He  was  not  content  to  lounge  about  the  street,  and 
take  what  came  to  his  hand,  but  was  ever  on  the  alert  for 
passing  traffic.  Drovers  knew  the  sort  of  man  they  had  to 
deal  with,  and  tried  every  shift  to  slip  past  the  burgh  without 
paying  the  custom.  A  favourite  trick  with  them  was  when, 
on  their  southward  journey,  they  approached  the  town, instead 
of  continuing  along  the  turnpike  road,  they  turned  down  the 
road  to  Nith  Bridge,  and,  crossing  the  river,  drove  their 
cattle  or  sheep  down  the  south  side,  rejoining  the  main  road 
further  south.  But  the  officer  was  too  many  for  them.  He 
could  not  be  always  at  this  point,  but,  by  an  application  of 
the  craft  in  which  the  backwoodsman  of  America  excels,  he 
laid  a  trap  for  them  after  the  following  manner.  He  pro- 
cured a  quantity  of  damp  earth,  a  layer  of  which  he  laid 
across  the  road.  Cattle  or  sheep  passing  along  left  their 
footprints,  and  these  gave  the  officer  all  the  knowledge  he 
wanted.  He  visited  the  place  at  intervals,  and  an  examina- 
tion of  the  ground  shewed  not  only  whether  it  was  cattle  or 
sheep  that  had  passed,  but  the  direction  in  which  they  had 
gone.  James  immediately  followed  in  pursuit.  Sometimes 
the  drover  had  gained  a  considerable  distance,  and  was 
chuckling  how  he  had  circumvented  the  old  officer,  but  his 
conclusions  generally  proved  premature.  The  unerring 
detective  was  on  his  track,  and,  though  he  had  to  trudge 
weary  miles,  he  would  not  give  up  the  chase  till  he  had 
overtaken  his  man,  and  recovered  his  custom.  The  service 
of  the  burgh,  and  the  protection  of  its  interests,  were  with 
him  a  perfect  passion  ;  and  he  has  been  known,  when  his 
quick  ear  caught  the  sound  of  a  passing  cart,  to  spring  out 
of  bed,  and,  not  waiting  to  dress,  lest  in  the  interval  his 
victim  should  escape,  rush  out  to  the  street,  and  speed  along 

History  of  Sa  n  qukar.  217 

in  pursuit,  presenting  much  the  appearance  of  a  disembodied 
spirit.  And  all  this  for  what  ?  A  beggarly  pittance  of  9s 
per  week.  A  minute  of  26th  April,  1853,  runs  thus — "  The 
Council  agree  to  allow  James  Black,  Town  Officer,  on  account 
of  the  heavy  work  he  is  doing  on  the  street  at  present,  a 
wage  at  the  rate  of  9s  per  week  during  the  current  year,  in 
full  of  his  whole  services  to  the  Burgh."  The  heavy  work 
on  the  street  refers  to  the  paving  that  he  did,  for  James  was 
a  handy  man,  and  never  idle.  His  wage  was  subsequently 
increased  to  12s,  and  then  to  14s  per  week,  an  increase  which 
was  well  earned,  for  the  revenue  from  the  customs  had  notably 
improved  from  the  time  when  he  took  them  in  hand.  At 
length,  the  time  came  when  heavy  work  was  beyond 
his  power,  but  what  he  could  do  was  still  done  with 
all  his  old  spirit  and  fidelity.  In  1872,  in  a  'Council,  the 
majority  of  the  members  of  which  seem  to  have  been  dead  to 
all  generous  feeling,  an  agitation  was  raised  to  cut  down  their 
old  servant's  wages.  He  was  at  the  time  labouring  under  a 
temporary  illness  when  he  learned  what  was  proposed  to  be 
done.  The  wage  was  reduced  to  10s,  and  the  act  would 
seem  to  have  broken  the  old  officer's  spirit.  He  died  three 
months  after,  at  the  age  of  72. 


The  inhabitants  of  small  burghs  in  the  olden  time,  not 
forgetful  of  the  great  advantages  they  enjoyed  by  the  grace 
of  the  Sovereign,  were  intensely  loyal,  and  the  annual  cele- 
bration of  the  King's  Birthday  was  for  long  one  of  the 
principal  events  of  the  year.  The  Town  Council  naturally 
took  the  lead  in  the  festivities  that  were  indulged  in.  The 
first  formal  minute  on  the  subject  is  dated  1728,  and  runs 
thus  : — "  The  Provost  Baillies  and  Council  considering  that 
this  is  his  Majesty  King  George  the  Second  his  Birthday 
have  therefore  resolved  at  twelve  of  the  clock  the  said  day  to 
repair  to  the  Tolbooth,  and  to  go  from  thence  to  the  Cross, 
And  there  drink  his  Majesty  King  George  the  Second  his 


218  History  of  Sanquhar. 

Health  and  all  other  Loyal  Healths,  and  ordaine  the  Bells  of 
the  Town  to  be  rung,  Drurabs  to  beat,  and  other  Instruments 
of  Musick  to  play  upon  that  occasion,  And  the  Train  bands 
of  the  Town  to  be  drawn  up  and  fire  as  usuall." 

The  following  note  appears  in  the  Dumfries  Magazine  in 
the  year  1826  : — "  On  Thursday  last,  about  mid-day,  the 
common-bellman  of  Sanquhar  made  a  notification  in  the 
following  words  : — '  I'm  requeested  to  intimate  that  the  ban' 
o'  moosic  will  meet  at  the  pump  well  the  night  at  seven 
o'clock,  to  play  '  God  Save  the  King.'  and  they'll  be  glad  o' 
the  company  o'  ony  body  'at  likes  to  come  and  hear  them, 
an'  to  tak'  a  glass  wi'  them  afterwards,  in  a  quate,  discreet 
kin'  o'  way,  when  a'  his  Majesty's  loyal  subjects  are  gaun  to 
toss  the  King's  health  for  the  favour  he  has  dune  to  the 
leeges  o'  Sanquhar  in  opening  the  ports  at  this  prezeese 
time.'  In  consequence,  it  is  related,  of  the  above  call  upon 
their  loyalty,  a  number  of  the  leeges  assembled,  and  listened 
to  the  performance  of  the  King's  anthem,  and  then  adjourned 
from  the  pump-well  to  the  Court  House,  where  they  pledged 
his  Majesty's  health,  long  life,  and  prosperity  in  brimming 
bumpers,  but  from  the  more  potent  liquor  drawn  from  John 

The  naivete  of  these  proclamations  is  charming,  and  they 
give  us  a  delightful  peep  at  one  of  the  great  merrymakings 
of  former  days  in  Sanquhar.  The  reference  in  the  latter  to  the 
immediate  cause  of  the  citizens'  abounding  gratitude,  that  his 
Majesty  "had  opened  the  ports  at  this  prezeese  time,"  relates 
to  the  oppressive  Corn  Laws,  the  baleful  effects  of  which 
upon  the  condition  of  the  lower  classes  especially  we  have 
elsewhere  pointed  out,  and  reminds  us  of  the  fact  that  this 
year  1826  was,  and  is  still,  called  "  the  dry  year."  No  rain 
fell  for  several  months  ;  in  some  cases  the  corn  never  was 
blessed  with  a  shower  from  sowing  to  reaping,  and  was 
harvested  in  the  beginning  of  August,  an  unprecedentedly 
early  date  for  this  high  locality.  It  was  so  short  that  most 
of  it  had  to  be  pulled  by  the  hand,  instead  of  being  reaped 

History  of  Sanqukar.  219 

by  the  sickle  in  the  usual  way.  The  result  was,  that  a  good 
deal  of  soil  adhered  to  the  roots  in  the  process  of  pulling, 
which  the  utmost  care  in  fanning  failed  to  separate  altogether 
from  the  grain,  and  the  meal  made  from  it  was  so  mixed 
with  sand  as  to  be  very  trying  to  the  teeth.  The  measure 
adopted  by  the  King  was  a  bold  but  wise  and  necessary 
stroke  of  policy.  It  was  a  suspension,  on  his  own  personal 
authority,  of  the  protective  laws.  We  have  seen  how,  time 
after  time,  through  the  failure  of  the  harvest,  and  the  main- 
tenance of  these  laws  in  all  their  rigour  and  severity,  the 
people  had  been  brought  to  the  very  verge  of  famine.  This 
was  one  of  those  supreme  crises  which  occur  in  the  history  of 
a  nation,  when  everything  must  be  subordinated  to  the  first 
duty  of  every  Government — the  protection  of  the  lives  of  its 
citizens;  and  the  King  was,  therefore,  justified  in  a  course 
which,  though  technically  illegal,  was  necessary  to  the  saving 
of  his  people.  This  celebration  of  the  King's  birthday  was 
one  of  the  great  celebrations  of  the  year,  in  which  the  whole 
population,  young  and  old,  joined  with  the  greatest  enthu- 
siasm. The  forms  which  such  celebrations  assumed  were  not 
so  varied  in  those  days,  and  consisted  chiefly  of  processions, 
drinking,  and.  the  burning  of  tar-barrels.  The  Town  Council 
set  the  fashion,  as  we  have  seen,  by  marching  in  a  body  from 
the  Town  Hall  to  the  "  pump-well,"  where  the  King's  health 
was  drunk  with  all  the  honours.  They  were  joined  by  the 
large  body  of  the  populace,  whose  attendance  was  doubtless 
augmented  by  the  presence,  as  often  was  the  case,  of  a  half- 
hogshead,  then  termed  an  eighteen-dozen  cask,  of  ale,  from 
which  they  were  allowed  to  draw  ad  libitum.  The  "  ban'  o' 
moosic "  played  the  National  Anthem,  and  other  stirring- 
airs  ;  and,  the  ball  thus  set  rolling,  the  merry-making  was 
carried  on  during  the  evening  with  great  vigour.  Some  of 
the  younger  spirits  generally  contrived  to  procure  a  tar- 
barrel,  which  they  placed  on  a  cart,  and  dragged  through  the 
streets  with  ropes,  cheering  and  yelling  the  while.  This 
rough  torchlight  procession  was  rather  a  dangerous  amuse- 

220  History  of  Sanquhar. 

ment  in  the  times  when  the  whole  houses,  with  rare  excep- 
tions, were  thatched  with  straw,  but  we  have  not  heard  that 
any  untoward  mishap  ever  occurred.  The  tar-barrels  were 
procured  from  the  farmers  in  the  neighbourhood,  who  used 
large  quantities  of  tar  in  the  now  obsolete  process  of  smear- 
ing their  sheep. 

The  Trades  Election  was  another  great  day  of  the  year. 
It  occurred  about  the  same  time  as  the  election  of  the 
Council.  Here  the  observances  were  of  much  the  same 
description.  The  Trades  met  about  mid-day,  in  the  vicinity 
of  the  Town  Hall,  formed  into  procession,  and,  headed  by  the 
instrumental  band,  paraded  down  the  street  and  back,  and 
then  passed  on  usually  to  Crawick,  where,  at  a  certain  period, 
they  were  always  hospitably  entertained  by  Mr  Rigg,  the 
principal  partner  of  the  Forge  Company  there,  and  where 
the  greater  part  of  the  afternoon  was  spent  in  out-door  sports. 
Returning  to  the  town,  they  broke  up  into  divisions  by 
trades  —  Squaremen  (masons  and  joiners),  Blacksmiths, 
Weavers,  Shoemakers,  and  Tailors — each  trade  proceeding 
together  to  a  particular  public-house.  There  was  plenty  of 
choice,  when  there  were  from  fifteen  to  twenty  licensed  houses, 
and  these  all  got  a  turn,  in  succession,  of  the  patronage  of  the 
tradesmen.  Business  meetings  were  held  by  each,  the  chief 
item  of  which  was — the  election  of  the  deacon  of  the  trade  ; 
after  which  the  members  dined  together,  and  spent  the  night 
in  right  jolly  fashion.  Drink  was  cheap,  teetotalism  was 
seldom  professed,  and  the  name  of  Forbes  Mackenzie  had 
not  yet  been  heard  in  the  land.  Through  the  greater  part 
of  the  night,  the  revel  proceeded,  and,  in  the  grey  dawn  of 
the  next  morning,  the  last  survivors  might  full  oft  be  seen 
staggering  home.  While  their  elders  were  thus  engaged 
upstairs,  the  'prentices  were  not  forgotten.  They  received 
their  dinner,  free,  at  a  second  table  downstairs,  and  a  certain 
allowance  of  drink  was  sent  down  in  order  that  they  might 
qualify  themselves  for  taking  their  place  some  day  in  the 
upper  circle.  The  provision  made  was  always  very  abundant, 

History  of  Sanquhar.  221 

each  keeper  of  a  house  being  anxious  to  earn  a  good  reputa- 
tion among  the  tradesmen  for  the  quality  of  his  entertainment, 
and  so  it  was  a  common  custom  for  some  to  turn  in  next  day, 
when  they  received  a  substantial  dinner  off  the  fragments  on 
very  easy  terms.  Was  it  hunger  or  drouth,  after  all,  that 
took  them  back  ? 

Another  red-letter  day  was  the  annual  Riding  of  the 
Marches.  At  a  time  when  a  large  part  of  the  land  was 
absolutely  unfenced,  and  the  boundaries  of  properties  were 
only  marked  in  the  rudest  manner,  this  was  a  most  necessary 
proceeding.  It  served  to  preserve  in  the  minds  of  the 
inhabitants  a  clear  recollection  of  what  those  boundaries 
were.  In  a  minute  of  the  year  1730,  we  have  the  first 
reference  to  this  practice,  which  shews  that  even  then  it  was 
not  new.  In  the  minute  the  Provost,  Baillies,  and  Council 
"  appoint  and  ordain  that  all  and  each  man  Burges  and 
Inhabitant  within  the  Burgh  of  Sanquhar  haveing  a  Horse 
of  his  own  do  wait  upon  the  Magistrates  and  Council  the 
said  day  by  eleven  of  the  clock  in  the  forenoon  to  ride  the 
Marches  of  the  Burgh,  as  formerly,  each  man  under  the 
penalty  of  ten  merks  Scots  money."  The  lead  in  this 
observance  was  naturally  taken  by  the  Town  Council,  the 
guardians  of  the  rights  of  the  public,  but  they  were  by  no 
means  without  countenance  on  the  occasion,  for  they  carried 
a  "jar  "with  them.  Proceeding  down  the  street,  they  left 
the  main  road  when  the  Townfoot  burn  had  been  reached, 
and,  following  the  track  of  the  burn,  they  ascended  the  face 
of  the  brae.  Wending  to  the  right,  they  passed  the  herd's 
house  and  reached  the  summit,  where  the  first  halt  was 
called,  and  the  first  "dram"  partaken  of.  Resuming  their 
journey,  they  swept  round  the  moor,  caught  on  to  the  head 
of  the  Conrick  Burn,  and  so,  they  pursued  their  devious 
course  towards  Crawick  Mill,  where  the  ceremony  practically 
ended.  This  was  by  no  means  a  complete  circuit  of  the 
marches,  but  it  covered  the  parts  where  the  boundary  was 
least  plainly  defined.  In  the  last  years  of  its  observance, 

222  History  of  Sanquhar. 

the  crowd  was  headed  by  one  Captain  Scott,  a  retired  army 
officer,  who  resided  in  the  town,  and  took  an  interest  in  its 
welfare.  The  gallant  captain  donned  his  old  military  uniform 
for  the  occasion.  A  horse  for  his  use  was  kindly  lent  by 
some  one,  and,  mounted  on  this  horse,  his  scarlet  coat  gave 
quite  a  character  to  the  procession.  The  captain  was  popular, 
and  his  presence,  imposing  as  it  would  appear  to  the  imagina- 
tion of  the  youngsters,  did  more  than  anything  else  to  ensure 
the  continuance  of  this  ancient  custom,  long  after  its  practi- 
cal utility  had  ceased.  The  last  occasion  on  which  it  was 
observed  was  over  sixty  years  ago.  An  attempt  was  made 
in  1853  to  revive  it.  A  petition  was  presented  to  the  Town 
Council  asking  them  to  arrange  for  the  observance  of  the 
custom,  which  for  many  years  had  been  neglected.  The 
Council  were  not  influenced  by  any  consideration  of  archaic 
interest  connected  with  it,  but  regarded  it  from  a  merely 
utilitarian  point  of  view.  They  "saw  no  good  purpose  to  be 
served  by  such  a  proceeding,  recommend  the  petitioners  to 
depart  from  the  proposal,  but  if  they  resolve  to  carry  it  out, 
the  Council  leave  them  to  act  entirely  on  their  own  responsi- 
bility in  the  matter."  Thus  passed  away  another  of  the 
picturesque  features  of  the  social  life  of  the  old  burgh. 

In  a  municipal  sense,  the  election  of  the  Town  Council 
was  the  event  of  the  whole  year.  So  long  as  the  old  council 
had  the  right  to  elect  the  new,  the  dramatis  personce 
consisted  only  of  the  members  :  the  general  body  of  the 
inhabitants  only  played  the  part  of  interested  spectators. 
Notwithstanding,  it  aroused  a  high  degree  of  interest,  and 
was  the  subject  of  many  secret  cabals  and  dexterous  wire- 
pulling. A  seat  at  the  Council  was  then  the  only  position 
of  power  and  influence  in  the  burgh.  All  who  sat  there  were, 
therefore,  persons  of  consideration,  and  the  provostship  was 
the  highest  and  most  dignified  post  to  which  any  one  could 
hope  to  aspire.  He  was  brought  into  contact  with  territorial 
magnates,  and,  especially  about  the  time  of  a  parliamentary 
election,  was  privileged  to  rub  shoulders  with  the  highest 

History  of  Sanquhar.  223 

and  best  in  the  county,  and,  as  we  have  seen,  if  he  was  not 
hampered  with  scruples  of  conscience,  could,  if  he  played  his 
cards  well,  manage  to  make  his  position  not  only  agreeable 
but  profitable.  In  the  annual  election,  therefore,  it  was  that 
all  the  strivings  of  parties  and  cliques  culminated,  but  the 
banquet  which  followed  served  to  soothe  the  asperities  of 
party  warfare.  But,  in  truth,  these  same  municipal  feasts 
were  of  not  infrequent  occurrence — it  being  a  common  saying 
yet  in  the  town  that,  during  the  period  when  the  burgh  was 
reaping  a  large  revenue  out  of  the  coal-works  on  the  moor, 
if  a  pound  of  nails  were  wanted  for  the  works  it  cost  five 
pounds  before  they  could  be  ordered  ;  for  the  meetings  of 
Council  were  usually  held  in  public-houses,  when  eating  and 
drinking  formed  the  principal  part  of  the  business.  This  is 
probably  an  exaggeration,  but,  that  the  practice  prevailed  to 
a  certain  extent,  there  can  be  little  doubt,  and  that  will 
explain,  what  otherwise  appears  inexplicable,  why,  at  a  time 
when  the  Council  must  have  had  much  important  business 
to  transact,  the  minutes  are  so  meagre.  At  such  meetings 
they  would,  in  all  likelihood,  dispense  with  the  ceremony  of 
writing  minutes. 

These  were  the  great  standing  celebrations  of  the  year. 
Others  connected  with  particular  events  we  shall  take  up  in 
their  chronological  order. 

Thus  far,  the  different  parts  of  the  municipal  history  of  the 
town  have  been  treated  by  bringing  together  the  materials 
connected  with  particular  heads,  but  there  remain  various 
matters  and  incidents,  referred  to  in  the  Council  Minutes, 
which  are  incapable  of  being  thus  grouped,  and  we  shall 
have  to  take  these  in  the  order  of  time  of  their  occurrence, 
giving,  in  most  cases,  the  minute,  and  adding  whatever 
remarks  or  explanations  may  appear  to  be  necessary  to  place 
them  fully  before  the  reader. 

20th  July,  1730.—"  The  said  day  the  Provost,  Baillies,  and  Council  have 
sold  to  Robert  Fisher,  Dyster  in  Sanquhar,  that  piece  of  ground  called 

224  History  of  Sanquhar. 

'  Sarah's  Frock,'  belonging  in  common  to  the  Burgh,  lying  upon  the  water 
of  Crack  from  the  foot  of  the  brae  to  the  said  water,  and  that  for  building 
a  Waulk  Miln  with  a  House  Steed  and  Milldams  thereto,  with  free  passage 
to  and  from  the  same,  and  that  for  payment  of  six  shillings  eight  pennies 
of  yearly  Feu-duty." 

28th  May,  1743. — "The  said  day  the  Provost  produces  an  Act  of  the 
Justices  of  the  Peace  of  the  Shire  of  Dumfries  aneut  the  spinning  of  Woolen 
Yarn,  which  is  read  in  Council,  and  the  same  is  appointed  to  be  intimat  at 
the  Mercat  Cross  upon  the  next  Mercat  Day  in  time  of  Publick  Mercat, 
and  also  to  be  intimat  at  the  Paroch  Kirk  door  of  Sanquhar  the"  first  Day 
there  shall  be  Sermon,  &c." 

4th  June,  17S9. — "  The  Magistrates  and  Council  being  mett  for  the  pur- 
pose of  laying  a  plan  for  making  the  street  into  a  Regular  line  were  unani- 
mously of  opinion  that  when  any  part  of  the  said  street  was  to  be  rebuilt 
that  the  same  should  run  from  the  North  Corner  of  the  New  Inn  to  the 
East  Corner  of  Mr  Barker's  house  in  a  straight  line,  and  the  Houses  behind 
said  Line  to  be  brought  forward,  and  those  that  are  too  near  the  street  of 
said  Line  to  be  taken  back. " 

29th  September,  1800. — Previous  to  the  election  of  the  New  Council,  "  a 
Protest  was  given  in  by  Robert  Whigham,  Esq.  of  Hallidayhill,  a  member 
of  the  Town  Council  of  the  Royal  Borough  of  Sanquhar,  and  present  Dean 
of  Guild  of  said  Borough,  Bearing  that  he  did  then  at  the  Election  of 
Magistrates  and  Council  for  said  Borough  of  Sanquhar,  for  the  year  ensuing 
which  was  about  to  take  place  Protest  that  in  case  the  persons  following 
.  .  .  all  Indwellers  in  Sanquhar  and  present  Members  of  the  Council  of  the 
said  burgh  or  any  one  of  them  should  attempt  to  take  it  upon  them  to  vote 
at  the  present  election  of  Magistrates  and  Council,  their  votes  should  not 
be  received  and  ought  not  to  be  admitted,  in  regard  they  were  acting 
under  a  Corrupt  and  undue  influence,  and  had  lately  entered  into  an  illegal 
obligation  and  Combination  subversive  of  the  Constitution  and  freedom  of 
the  Election  ....  and  that  they  and  each  of  them  should 
be  liable  to  him  Jointly  and  Severally  in  all  Damages,  Cost,  Skaith,  or 
Expenses  he  might  sustain  or  incur  thereby." 

"  The  said  day  James  Hamilton,  a  Member  of  the  Town  Council,  and 
one  of  the  persons  against  whom  the  above  Protest  of  Mr  Robert  Whigham 
was  taken,  Averred  that  the  same  was  false,  and  that  110  undue  Influence 
was  used  against  him  or  any  of  his  Brethren." 

Mr  Whigham  then  nominated  seventeen  persons  for  elec- 
tion, and  a  vote  having  been  called,  six  persons  voted  for 
those  nominated  by  him,  whereupon  he  claimed  that 
"  having  been  approved  by  a  majority  of  the  legal  votes  they 
are  the  Persons  who  are  now  to  be  considered  as  the  only 
legal  and  lawful  Counsellors  of  this  Burgh  for  the  ensuing 

History  of  Sanquhar.  225 

year ;  Therefore  he  takes  Instruments  in  the  hands  of  the 

' '  The  said  James  Hamilton  Protested  in  like  manner  against  the  said 
Robert  Whigham,  for  the  gross  impropriety  of  clogging  the  Minutes  with 
so  much  idle  stuff,  seeing  his  List  of  Council  was  rejected  by  a  great 
majority,  and  took  Instruments  and  craved  Extracts." 

What  a  fearful  upheaval  have  we  here,  evidently  the 
climax  of  a  struggle  between  Whigham  and  Otto  for 
supremacy.  A  typical  example  of  the  rivalries  that  spring  up 
in  the  municipal  bodies  of  small  burghs.  For  weeks  secret 
cabals  have  been  held,  wire-pulling  has  been  diligently 
carried  on,  and  every  possible  shift  and  expedient  resorted  to 
by  each  of  the  rivals,  to  capture  the  wavering  Councillors  and 
vanquish  his  adversary.  And  now  the  fateful  day  has 
arrived.  Whigharn,  knowing  that  his  opponent  has  out- 
witted him,  flings  down  his  protest  on  the  table.  It  acts 
like  a  bombshell.  The  Councillors  spring  to  their  feet ;  the 
angry  rivals  stand  confronting  each  other,  surrounded  each 
by  his  supporters  ;  while  the  witnesses  brought  in  for  the 
occasion  skulk  timidly  behind  their  principals.  Hamilton, 
for  himself  and  his  colleagues,  gives  voice  to  the  indignation 
with  which  they  repel  the  offensive  allegation  made  against 
them,  winding  up  with  a  sentence,  brief,  pointed,  and  pithy, 
in  which  he  pours  contempt  upon  Whigham's  protest, 
characterising  it  as  "  idle  stuff."  The  latter,  baffled  and 
defeated,  has  to  withdraw  with  what  dignity  he  can  muster 
in  his  humiliating  position.  It  is  to  be  regretted  that  one 
who  had  occupied  the  civic  chair  for  the  long  period  of 
sixteen  years  should  have  had  to  make  his  final  exit  in  this 

In  the  very  beginning  of  the  present  century,  the  streets  of 
the  town  were  lighted  with  lamps,  for,  in  1802,  the  Council, 
recognising  "  the  great  benefit  the  Inhabitants  of  the  town 
and  other  places  receive  from  Lamps  being  regularly  lighted 
and  kept  burning  on  the  streets,"  agree  that  the  expense  of 
the  same  shall  be  defrayed  from  the  town's  funds,  and  offer 


22(5  History  of  Sanquhar. 

a  reward  for  the  discovery  of  those  persons  who  are  guilty  of 
the  "  wicked  practice  "  of  breaking  said  lamps.  In  1840  the 
hours  fixed  for  lighting  the  street  lamps,  when  there  was  not 
moonlight,  were — "  Until  eleven  o'clock,  except  on  Sunday 
nights  and  Saturday  nights — the  former  till  ten  o'clock,  the 
latter  till  twelve  o'clock."  Of  course,  they  were  lighted  with 
oil  till  the  introduction  of  gas  in  the  year  1840. 

'3rd  October,  1812. —  Por  some  reason  not  stated,  the  Town 
Clerk,  William  Smith,  had  been  deprived  of  his  burgess 
ticket,  and,  not  being  qualified  to  conduct  the  election  of 
Council,  as  a  matter  of  form  he  had  to  resign  his  Clerkship, 
and  William  Gordon,  jun.,  writer  in  Dumfries,  was  appointed 
in  his  room.  The  same  day  Smith  was  re-admitted  Burgess, 
and  two  days  after,  at  the  close  of  the  annual  election,  he 
was  restored  to  his  office.  Gordon  was,  therefore,  Town 
Clerk  for  two  days  only. 

27th  May,  1833. — The  Magistrates,  now  elected  by  the 
voice  of  the  electors,  and  imbued  with  the  reforming  spirit  of 
the  age,  or  observing  the  drift  of  public  opinion,  "  unani- 
mously resolve  for  the  future  to  throw  the  privileges  of  the 
Burgh  open,  to  the  extent  of  not  exacting  from  any  indi- 
vidual coming  into  the  Burgh  and  keeping  a  shop  or  carrying 
on  any  sort  of  trade  or  business  whatever,  any  of  the  fees  or 
charges  hitherto  in  the  use  of  being  levied  from  persons 
commencing  business  ....  but  such  person  shall  not 
be  entitled  to  procure  a  formal  admission  as  Burgess  from 
the  Magistrates  without  payment  of  the  usual  expense  and 
upon  the  usual  terms.  The  Council  also  recommend  to  the 
Trades  of  the  Burgh  to  throw  open  their  respective  [crafts] 
to  all  and  sundry  without  exception,  and  voluntarily  to 
abandon  their  seals  of  cause  for  all  time  coming."  The 
Magistrates  may  have  resolved  to  make  a  virtue  of  necessity, 
but  at  any  rate  their  action,  as  persons  professing  Liberal 
principles,  was  consistent,  and,  on  this  ground,  contrasts 
favourably  with  the  action  of  their  successors  of  a  later  time, 
who  clung  to  their  rights  in  regard  to  custom,  till  these  were 

History  of  Sanquhar,  227 

taken  from  them  by  the  Legislature.  Prompted  by  the  old 
Conservative  spirit,  a  motion  was  made  in  1835  to  revive 
the  ancient  restrictions  on  trading  in  the  town,  limiting  the 
freedom  to  such  as  were  Burgesses,  but  the  attempt  was 

We  now  reach  a  period  of  disturbance  and  litigation,  which 
kept  the  Council  and  the  town  itself  in  a  somewhat  lively 
condition,  and  for  which  two  individuals,  William  Broom 
and  Thomas  Rae,  were  largely  responsible.  Mr  Broom  was 
elected  the  first  provost  under  the  reformed  franchise.  The 
list  of  votes  given  at  the  election  were,  until  the  Ballot  Act 
was  passed,  recorded  in  the  Minute  Book,  and,  by  a  careful 
study  of  these  lists,  one  can  distinguish  the  little  parties  into 
which  the  Council  and  the  constituency  were,  from  the  first, 
divided.  In  the  year  1835,  Provost  Broom's  list  of  candi- 
dates were  all  defeated  by  a  sweeping  majority.  The  Provost 
seems  to  have  taken  his  defeat  with  a  bad  grace,  and  he 
resolved  to  play  the  dog  in  the  manger,  regardless  of  his 
statutory  duty  as  Chief  Magistrate,  and  his  oath 
Councillor.  At  the  first  meeting  of  the  Council  for  the  pur- 
pose of  swearing-in  the  new  Councillors,  the  Provost  is  noted 
in  the  minute  as  "  being  absent  without  any  excuse."  The 
three  Bailies,  who  had  been  of  the  Provost's  party,  and  had 
been  defeated  at  the  election  two  days  before,  declined  to 
attend  the  meeting  or  preside  at  the  election  of  magistrates. 
In  this  they  were  right,  and  the  Provost,  taking  advantage 
of  the  fact  that  he  was  at  the  moment  the  only  magistrate 
in  the  burgh,  probably  designed,  by  absenting  himself,  to 
put  the  Council  in  a  fix  ;  but  they  were  under  the  guidance 
of  a  wary  clerk,  Mr  J.  W.  Macqueen,  and  the  business  pro- 
ceeded without  the  Provost.  It  would  appear  that  he  there- 
upon, in  a  characteristic  manner  (for  he  was  a  good  deal 
given  to  bluster),  threatened  to  overturn  the  whole  proceed- 
ings. The  opinion  of  counsel  was  taken,  and  was  in  favour 
of  "  the  validity  of  the  late  election  under  the  peculiar  cir- 
cumstances under  which  it  took  place." 

228  History  of  Sanquhar. 

This  seems  to  have  settled  the  Provost  for  the  time.  He 
fell  into  the  sulks,  and  never  more  during  his  tenure  of  office 
did  he  attend  a  single  meeting  of  Council,  except  at  the 
annual  roup  of  the  game  on  the  moor,  in  which  he  was 
personally  interested,  and  at  the  end,  as  presiding  officer, 
when  he  was  standing  as  a  candidate  for  re-election.  He, 
with  his  other  nominees,  was  signally  defeated,  with  the 
exception  of  one  William  Brown  ("  Singy  "  Brown,  as  he  was 
nicknamed,  being  a  singing  -  master),  but  so  completely 
had  the  Provost  his  party  under  control  that  "Singy"  declined 
office  when  he  saw  that  his  chief  was  defeated.  In  this  un- 
dignified and  humiliating  manner  did  Provost  Broom's  con- 
nection with  the  Town  Council  cease — for  a  time.  It  was 
only  for  a  time,  for  we  find  that,  though  he  stood  next  year 
as  a  candidate  and  received  only  one  vote,  in  the  year 
following,  1838,  the  vicissitudes  of  party  warfare  which,  in 
small  country  towns,  are  frequently  as  bewildering  as  the 
transformation  scene  of  a  pantomime,  received  forcible 
illustration  in  Broom's  election,  first  as  a  councillor,  and 
subsequently  as  Provost.  A  fresh  denoument  occurs  during 
this  second  term  of  Mr  Broom's  Provostship,  for  in  1840  it 
is  recorded  that  on  the  election  of  John  Donaldson  as 
Burgh  and  Council  Officer,  the  Provost,  who  opposed  his 
appointment,  instantly  intimated  "that  in  consequence  of 
this  vote  as  to  the  officer,  he,  the  Provost,  now  hereby 
resigned,  and  does  resign  the  office  of  Provost  from  the 
present  moment."  This  incident  exhibits  Broom  as  of  an 
impetuous,  wilful  disposition.  He  must  have  everything  his 
own  way,  and  when  he  is  thwarted  acts  in  a  rash  and  pre- 
cipitate manner.  This  is  his  last  appearance  at  the  Council 
board,  but  he  continues  to  act  as  a  thorn  in  the  side  of  the 
Council  for  years  after,  in  connection  with  business  relations 
he  had  with  them  as  an  owner  of  part  of  the  divided  land  on 
the  rnuir  and  tacksman  of  coal.  A  year  after,  he  applies  for 
their  permission  to  cut  a  Level  up  the  Cow  Wynd  from  the 
street  to  drain  his  coal  workings.  The  Council  accede  to  Mr 

History  of  Sanquhar.  229 

Broom's  application  .  .  .  ''  it  being  expressly  provided 
and  stipulated  that  the  Council  shall  ever  afterwards  enjoy  the 
privilege  of  the  use  of  the  proposed  new  Level,  free  of  any  con- 
sideration or  compensation  being  claimable  for  such  privilege." 
It  was  further  stipulated  that  Broom  should  do  nothing  to  dis- 
turb the  previously  existing  level,  which  afforded  a  valuable 
supply  of  good  water  for  the  service  of  the  inhabitants. 
Notwithstanding  all  these  stipulations,  the  result  was  that 
the  old  level  was  tapped,  and  the  supply  of  water  ceased 
This  led  to  an  angry  controversy,  but  the  Council,  unable  to 
make  anything  of  Broom,  had  occasion  to  repent  of  the 
liberty  they  had  granted  him.  Then,  again,  in  a  dispute 
with  him  in  1842,  with  regard  to  the  portion  of  the  town's 
lauds  held  by  him,  which  it  was  agreed  to  refer  to  arbitration. 
Broom  named  a  Thomas  Craig,  his  own  sub-tenant,  as  his 
representative,  a  person  who  had  a  direct  interest  in  the 
matter.  The  Council,  impressed  with  the  barefaced  nature 
of  Broom's  proposal,  agree  to  meet  him  on  his  ground,  and 
"  in  the  event  of  Mr  Broom  persisting  in  Mr  Thomas  Craig, 
his  Tenant,  being  named  Referee  on  his  part,  that  the 
Council  name  Mr  Thomas  Rae,  one  of  their  tenants,  as 
Referee  on  their  part."  Those  who  knew  the  men,  and  the 
relation  of  cordial  hatred  that  subsisted  between  Broom  and 
Rae,  will  appreciate  the  humour  of  the  Council's  proposal 
and  the  effectiveness  of  it  as  a  counter  move.  That  it  was 
only  meant  as  that  is  shewn  from  the  fact  that  the  minute 
goes  on  to  say  that  "if  Mr  Broom  will  name  a  neutral  person 
of  intelligence  and  respectability  on  his  part,  the  Council  in 
that  case  appoint  Mr  James  Dalziel,  in  Auchengruith,  as 
their  Referee."  Rae  was,  as  we  have  said,  on  bad  terms 
with  Broom.  Between  the  two  there  was  a  great  similarity 
of  disposition.  Both  were  almost  incessantly  engaged  in 
petty  litigations,  and  Rae  ultimately  ruined  himself  in  this 
way.  The  Mr  Dalziel  whom  the  Council  really  wished  to 
represent  them  was  a  person  of  a  very  different  stamp,  being 
a  gentleman  of  great  natural  shrewdness,  extensive  know- 

230  History  of  Sanquhar. 

ledge,  and  experience,  and,  above  all,  of  unimpeachable 
integrity.  So  great  was  the  public  confidence  in  his  capacity 
and  his  unbending  impartiality  that  very  frequently  he  was 
called  in  singly  to  arbitrate  between  disputants. 

Mr  Broom's  name  again  crops  up  in  1850,  when  he 
attempted  to  close  the  road  across  the  muir,  from  the  main- 
road  towards  Conrick,  by  building  a  dyke  across  each  end  of 
it.  The  Council  "  resolve  that  the  dykes  referred  to  at  said 
road  shall  be  thrown  down  and  removed,"  which  was  done  by 
the  officer.  Broom  raised  an  action  of  Interdict,  but  subse- 
quently withdrew  it.  At  the  same  time  he  proceeded  to 
quarry  stones  in  his  lands  without  the  Council's  permission, 
and  this  in  the  face  of  a  decision  obtained  some  years 

The  Free  Church  congregation  at  Sanquhar  had  their  own 
share  of  the  annoyance  and  persecution  to  which  the  Church 
was  subjected  in  many  quarters.  The  attitude  taken  up  by 
the  Duke  of  Buccleuch  towards  the  Church  elsewhere 
rendered  it  plain  that  they  need  not  expect  any  facilities 
from  him.  The  difficulty  of  procuring  stones  for  the  erection 
of  their  Church  was  solved  by  the  Town  Council  coming 
forward  and  offering  them  the  liberty  to  quarry  stones 
from  the  muir-lands.  The  place  chosen  was  on  Raefield, 
owned  by  the  Thomas  Rae  already  referred  to.  The  fence 
was  taken  down,  a  road  constructed,  and  considerable  pro- 
gress made  in  the  work  of  quarrying,  when  Rae  came  down 
upon  the  Church  authorities  with  an  interdict.  This  raised 
the  question  whether  those  persons  who  had  participated  in 
the  division  of  the  muir  lands  were  in  the  position  of  absolute 
owners,  or  had  their  rights  confined  to  the  surface,  the 
minerals  remaining  with  the  town  as  superior.  The  Council 
resolved  to  defend  the  case  in  the  name  of  the  contractor, 
who  had  been  served  with  the  interdict.  The  Sheriff  decided 
in  favour  of  the  Council,  but  Rae  appealed  to  the  Court  of 
Session,  and  while  the  case  was  still  in  dependence  "  it  was 
ascertained  by  the  Council  that  Thomas  Rae  has  proceeded 

History  of  Sanquhar.  231 

and  caused  the  quarry  at  the  muir  to  be  filled  up  and 
levelled,  and  that  the  same  thing  has  been  done  with  the 
road  into  it,  and  that  the  dyke  across  the  road  has  been 
re-built  and  the  hedge  re-planted,  and  that  he  has  buried 
almost  all  the  large  quantity  of  stones  which  Mr  Hair  had 
quarried  and  put  out  in  so  filling  up  the  said  quarry."  This 
incident  shews  what  a  resolute,  fearless  character  Rae  was. 
The  majesty  of  the  law  even  could  not  overawe  him.  The 
final  decision  was  given  against  him,  and  another  controversy 
which  caused  much  bitterness  in  the  whole  district  was 

I4>th  October,  1836. — The  Council  resolved  to  present  the 
freedom  of  the  burgh  to  the  youthful  Duke  of  Buccleuch. 
On  the  28th  inst.  he  was  admitted,  and  a  Burgess  Ticket, 
written  on  a  stamp  of  £1  (his  Grace's  father  having  been  a 
Burgess),  was  extended  accordingly.  The  Council  purposed 
presenting  the  Burgess  Ticket  to  His  Grace  at  the  Holm, 
before  he  left  the  country,  but  that  arrangement  was  not 
found  convenient  to  the  Duke,  and  a  deputation  consisting 
of  two  bailies  and  the  clerk  proceeded  to  the  Castle  with  that 
object.  On  their  return,  they  reported  that  "  His  Grace 
had  been  pleased  to  receive  the  Ticket  in  a  very  kind  and 
affable  and  condescending  manner  ;  that  the  deputation  had 
been  treated  with  every  mark  of  attention  and  respect ;  and 
that  the  Duke  had  expressed  his  satisfaction  and  gratification 
at  receiving  such  a  token  of  respect  from  the  Sanquhar  Town 

6th  June,  1854. — The  Provost  laid  on  the  table  the  invita- 
tion he  had  received  to  attend  the  opening  of  the  Crystal 
Palace,  London,  by  the  Queen,  on  the  10th  inst.,  and  "the 
Council  grant  the  sum  of  five  guineas  to  the  Provost  to 
assist  in  defraying  his  travelling  and  other  expenses." 

232  History  of  Sanquhar. 


The  practice,  now  so  common  in  the  larger  towns,  of  pre- 
senting the  freedom  of  the  burgh  to  men  of  distinction  as  a 
mark  of  honour  and  respect,  had  been  practised  by  the  Town 
Council  of  Sanquhar  from  the  earliest  times  down  to  the 
year  1813.  From  that  date,  however,  there  is  no  instance 
of  the  freedom  being  conferred  till  1854,  when  a  descendant 
of  the  ancient  Crichtons,  the  lords  of  the  Castle,  was  a 
recipient  of  this  honour.  The  Provost  called  a  meeting  of 
the  Council  "  in  consequence  of  hearing  that  to-morrow  Lord 
Patrick  James  Herbert  Crichton  Stuart  is  to  visit  Sanquhar 
for  the  purpose  of  seeing  this  Locality,  where  his  ancestors 
in  ancient  times  resided,  owned  extensive  possessions,  and 
held  influential  sway,  and  under  whose  fostering  auspices 
this  Burgh  was  originally  created  a  Burgh,  and  obtained  all 
its  rights,  privileges,  and  immunities."  The  Council  unani- 
mously resolved  to  present  "  Lord  James  Stuart  with  an 
Honorary  Burgess  Ticket,  as  the  only  mark  of  respect  which 
it  is  in  their  power,  in  their  corporate  capacity,  to  bestow.'' 
This  is  the  last  entry  on  the  roll  of  Hon.  Burgesses,  which 
will  be  found  in  the  Appendix. 

A  reference  to  the  paragraph  on  the  town  lands  will  shew 
that  it  was  about  this  time  that  these  were  laid  out  in  a  farm, 
fenced,  drained,  and  a  steading  built.  In  these  important 
works,  the  Council  were  guided  and  advised  by  Messrs 
Dalziel,  Auchengruith,  and  Kennedy,  Brandleys,  in  agricul- 
tural matters,  and  by  Mr  Archibald  Brown  in  regard  to  all 
buildings.  These  gentlemen,  having  declined  to  accept  any 
remuneration,  were  entertained  to  dinner  by  the  Council  on 
22nd  March,  1858,  "  in  acknowledgment  for  their  very  useful 

In  addition  to  the  settlement  of  their  land,  the  Town 
Council  at  this  period  promoted  other  works  of  public  utility 
In  1857,  they  resolved  to  procure 'a  new  bell  for  the  Town 
Hall,  the  Town's  funds  to  provide  one-half  of  the  sum  neces- 

History  of  Sanquhar.  233 

sary,  the  remainder  to  be  raised  by  subscription.  At  next 
meeting  a  subscription  of  £25  from  the  Duke  of  Buccleuch 
towards  this  object  was  intimated,  and  the  Council  acknow- 
ledge their  grateful  sense  of  the  Duke's  liberality  in  a  matter 
in  which  they  take  a  lively  interest.  The  Council  had 
previously  in  the  same  year  erected  a  new  clock  in  the  Town 
Hall  at  a  cost  of  £50,  the  face  of  the  old  clock  being  nailed 
up  on  the  end  of  the  Town  Hall  to  be  used  as  an  advertising 
board  ;  and  likewise  built  a  new  stair  with  iron  railing,  while 
they  had  the  interior  thoroughly  repaired  and  painted  at  a 
cost  of  £70.  They  had  also  obtained  a  satisfactory  settle- 
ment of  the  Custom  question  with  the  Railway  Company. 
This  energetic  and  enterprising  Council  was  composed  of  the 
following  members  :  —  Provost  John  Williamson  ;  Bailies 
Samuel  Whigham  and  William  Kerr ;  Dean  of  Guild  Walter 
Scott  ;  Treasurer  (Jeo.  Osborne  ;  Councillors  Archd.  Brown, 
Thomas  Shaw,  Alexander  Simpson,  and  Robert  Stoddart. 

In  1858,  the  last  attempt  to  work  coal  in  the  vicinity  of 
the  town  was  made  by  Mr  George  Clennell  above  the  railway, 
close  to  Matthew's  Folly  road,  but  without  success.  The 
attempt  was  speedily  abandoned.  It  was  in  connection  with 
a  claim  by  the  Council  against  Clennell  for  coal  abstracted 
from  underneath  the  road,  which  they  claimed,  that  the 
ominous  discovery  was  first  made  that  the  Charter  was  lost. 
This  announcement  was  made  at  a  meeting  held  in  February, 
1860,  and  created  the  utmost  consternation,  not  only  in  the 
Council,  but  outside.  The  Town  Clerk,  Mr  J.  W.  Macqueeu, 
stated  that  the  Charter  had  never  been  in  his  possession,  and 
produced  a  list  of  documents  which  he  had  received  from  his 
predecessor,  Mr  Smith,  in  which  it  did  not  appear,  but 
several  copies  of  translation  were  in  his  possession.  This 
was  a  vital  matter,  and  the  Council  instituted  a  search  in 
every  quarter  where  there  was  the  faintest  hope  of  its 
recovery,  but  in  vain.  The  wildest  conjectures  were  indulged 
in  by  the  townspeople  as  to  how  the  precious  document  had 
been  spirited  away,  but  these  did  not  assist  in  any  way  to  its 


234  History  of  Sa  nqit Ji ar. 

finding.  At  length,  after  fruitless  inquiries,  the  hope  of  its 
recovery  was  abandoned,  and  an  action  was  raised  in  the 
Court  of  Session,  in  1862,  to  prove  its  tenor,  with  the  view 
of  obtaining  a  new  Charter.  The  case  for  the  Council  was 
as  follows  : — 

I.  A  manuscript  volume  exhibited   by  Samuel  Halkett, 
Keeper  of  the  Advocates'  Library,  entitled  "  Juridical  and 
Historical  Collections,"  contained  a  writing  intituled  "Copie 
of  the  Charter  of  Erection   of  the  Toune  of  Sanquhar  in  a 
Brugh  Royall,  dated  in  1598." 

II.  Deposition  of  David  Laing,  Librarian  to  the  Society  of 
Writers  to  Her  Majesty's  Signet,  to  the  following  effect — I 
am  well  acquainted  with  the  handwriting  of  Lord  Fountain- 
hall,  who  was  one  of  the  Senators  of  the  College  of  Justice 
from  1689  till  about  the  time  of  his  death  in  1722.     I  know 
his  handwriting  from  having  edited  three  printed  volumes  of 
historical  notices,  selected  from  his  manuscripts.     This  was 
done  for  the  Bannatyne  Club.     Being  shewn  the  manuscript 
volume  exhibited  by  the  preceding  witness,  Mr  Halkett,  and 
the  before-mentioned  writing  therein  contained,  depones— The 
title  of  this  writing  and  the  marginal  note  at  the  commence- 
ment thereof  are  both  in  Lord  Fountainhall's  hand-writing. 
The  following  docquet  at  the  close  of  the  Charter  is  likewise, 
I  am   satisfied,   in  Lord  Fountainhall's  hand-writing : — "  I 
have  likewise  seen  the  proecept  furth  of  the  Chancery  of  the 
same  date  wt-  this  Charter,  for  infefting  the  said  toune  of 
Sanquhar,    item,    their   seasine    following    thirupon.      The 
license  granted  by  my  Lord   Sanquhar,  mentioned  in  this 
Charter,  is  only  this : — I,  Robert,  Lord  Creighton  of  Sanquhar, 
wills  and  consents  that  the  brugh  of  Sanquhar  (which  was  of 
before  ane  brugh  of  barony),  be  erected  now  in  a  free  Brugh 
regall,  with  all  immunities  and  privileges  His  Maty,  shall 
think   fit  to  give  thirto.     In  witness  whereof,  written,  &c. 
Other  licenses  bear  a  reserva'on  to  the  former  baron  of  his 
few-duties  and  casualities,  but  this  contains  no  such  clause, 
vide  pag.  seq." 

History  of  Sanqtihar.  235 

III.  W.  0.  Macqueen,  town-clerk  of  Sauquhar,  gave 
evidence  that  the  Charter  of  erection  of  the  burgh  of 
Sanquhar  as  a  royal  burgh,  the  relative  precept  for  infeft- 
ment,  and  the  instrument  of  sasine,  had  gone  amissing,  and 
that  it  was  a  tradition  in  the  town-clerk's  office  that  these 
writings  had  for  some  particular  purpose,  unknown,  been 
sent  out  of  the  custody  of  the  town-clerk.  The  time  when 
this  was  believed  to  have  occurred  was  in  the  latter  part  of 
the  eighteenth  century,  during  the  clerkship  of  John 
Crichton,  who  held  office  from  1789  to  1807.  This  opinion 
is  founded  on  the  fact  that,  in  an  inventory  drawn  up  by  the 
said  John  Crichton,  while  he  was  town  clerk,  of  the  principal 
papers,  books,  and  others  kept  as  records  for  the  burgh  of 
Sanquhar,  there  is  an  entry  of  the  original  Charter  as  in  his 
possession  at  the  time,  but  there  is  no  mention  of  the  said 
Charter  in  the  inventory  of  papers  delivered  by  him  in  1808 
to  his  successor  in  office,  Joseph  Gillou. 

Not  only  did  Mr  M'Queen  testify  that  the  whole  archives 
of  the  burgh  had  been  diligently  searched,  but  that  the 
whole  papers  of  the  said  John  Crichton,  and  also  of  James 
Crichton,  his  predecessor  in  office,  which  were  then  in  the 
possession  of  Mrs  Otto,  Newark,  near  Sanquhar,  had  likewise 
been  examined  without  a  trace  of  the  missing  documents 
being  found.  Further,  a  search  of  the  papers  at  Eliock 
House  had  been  made  in  1827,  by  Sheriff  Veitch  of  Lanark- 
shire, for  the  benefit  of  a  friend  engaged  in  writing  a 
history  of  Dumfriesshire,  but  no  trace  had  been  found  of  the 
said  charter  or  precept.  The  tenor  of  the  original  charter 
having  in  this  way  fortunately  been  preserved  by  the 
diligence  of  Lord  Fountainhall,  the  Council  were  successful 
in  obtaining  a  Charter  of  Novodamus  on  the  same  lines  at 
the  hands  of  the  Supreme  Court,  and  were  thus  relieved 
from  the  position  of  embarrassment  in  which  they  found 
themselves  when  the  loss  of  the  original  charter  was  made 
known.  The  process  of  proving  cost  £328  5s  3d. 

This  was  an  anxious  time  for  the  town,  for  a  serious  claim 

236  History  of  Sanquhar. 

was  made  in  1860  by  the  Duke  of  Bucclench  as  Titular  for 
arrears  of  stipend  and  interest  due  by  the  Town  on  their 
lands.  How  this  had  been  allowed  to  fall  into  arrears  is  not 
stated,  but  similar  claims  were  made  upon  all  the  small 
heritors,  and  the  sum  being  in  each  case  pretty  considerable, 
a  feeling  of  soreness  was  created  in  the  minds  of  those  who 
had  this  claim  unexpectedly  sprung  upon  them.  The  Town 
Council  gave  instructions  to  negotiate,  on  the  basis  of  the 
claim  not  reaching  further  back  than  .the  division  of  the 
Muir  in  1830,  and  of  the  interest  being  at  the  rate  of 
three  per  cent,  per  annum.  The  Duke  lodged  a  claim  for 
£225  15s  7d.  At  the  same  time,  a  counter  claim  was  made 
by  the  Council  against  the  Duke  for  arrears  of  feu-rents 
for  lands  held  by  His  Grace  from  the  town.  After  laboured 
negotiations,  and  a  proposal  to  settle  the  respective  claims 
by  arbitration  having  fallen  through  owing  to  a  failure  to 
agree  as  to  the  terms  of  the  submission,  directions  were  given 
in  1863  to  the  Town's  agent  "to  proceed  with  their  action 
against  the  Duke  of  Buccleuch,  leaving  it  to  His  Grace  to 
constitute  his  counter  claims  as  he  may  be  advised."  The 
Court  of  Session  granted  decree  in  favour  of  the  town,  finding 
it  entitled  to  receive  from  the  Duke  one  thousand,  one 
hundred  and  fifty-six  pounds,  one  shilling  and  eightpence 
sterling,  being  amount  of  rents  and  interest  due  to  them. 
Agents'  expenses  amounted  to  £159.  On  the  other  hand, 
the  Duke  was  successful  in  his  plea  against  the  town  for 
stipend,  the  sum  to  which  he  was  found  entitled  being 
£110  5s  lid.  The  expenses  incurred  were  £338  14s  2d. 

The  business  of  the  town  was  now  in  a  greatly  improved 
condition.  Their  property  was  all  in  good  order.  The 
Council  had  procured  a  new  Charter,  the  heavy  litigation, 
which  had  caused  them  many  an  anxious  thought  for  years, 
was  now  happily  brought  to  a  close,  and  they  could  therefore 
breathe  more  freely. 

7th  October,  1868. — The  Council  passed  a  minute  expres- 
sing their  abhorrence  of  the  assassination  of  President 

History  of  Sanquhar.  237 

Lincoln,  and  their  sympathy  with  the  American  people  and 
Mrs  Lincoln.  They  received,  in  return,  from  the  United 
States  Legation  in  London,  a  copy  of  the  appendix  to  the 
diplomatic  correspondence  of  the  United  States  of  1865,  as  a 
testimonial  of  the  grateful  appreciation  of  that  country. 

November,  1868. — The  introduction  of  a  regular  system  of 
sewerage  gave  rise  to  a  preliminary  controversy  of  a  very 
bitter  kind.  The  subject  is  not  a  savoury  one,  and  we  will 
therefore  not  dwell  upon  it.  The  opposition  was  directed, 
not  against  the  policy,  but  against  the  method  of  proceeding, 
in  which  the  promoters  of  the  scheme  were  not  altogether 
prudent.  At  the  next  occurring  election  this  was  made  a 
test  question,  the  result  being  that  the  Common-sewer  party, 
as  it  was  called,  were  defeated,  and  the  proposal  received  for 
a  time  its  quietus.  It  was  renewed  some  years  later,  under 
happier  auspices,  and  Mr  Gilchrist-Clark,  for  the  Duke  of 
Buccleuch,  agreed  most  generously  to  co-operate  in  this 
desirable  reform.  He  offered  to  construct  the  drain  from  the 
South  U.P.  Church,  whence  His  Grace's  property  occupies 
one  side  of  the  street,  to  the  townfoot,  and  thence  to  the  river 
Nith,  a  system  of  filters,  near  the  old  castle,  being  also  con- 
structed at  His  Grace's  expense.  This  offer  so  much  reduced 
the  cost  of  the  undertaking  as  to  make  it  practicable  for  the 
Council  to  pay  their  part  out  of  the  common  good  of  the 
burgh.  In  this  way  it  was  carried  through  at  last  with 
general  consent. 

2nd  September,  1872. — We  have  seen  what  a  large  revenue 
was  enjoyed  by  the  Council  in  the  early  years  of  the  present 
century  from  their  lordship  on  coal,  and  ever  since  that  time 
many  of  the  inhabitants  had  cherished  dreams  of  fabulous 
wealth  still  lying  beneath  the  surface  of  their  lauds,  forgetful 
of  the  fact  that,  in  its  later  stages  when  it  was  being  worked, 
the  coal  had  proved  altogether  unremunerative,  and  had 
been  ultimately  abandoned  owing  to  the  "  troubles  "  which 
were  encountered  in  the  workings,  and  entailed  no  end  of 
loss  and  disappointment.  The  belief  in  profitable  mining 

238  History  of  Sanquhar. 

being  still  possible  was  given  voice  to  in  the  Council  in  this 
year,  and  it  was  resolved  to  take  the  opinion  of  an  expert  on 
the  subject.  That  opinion  was  favourable,  and  the  field  was 
advertised.  Two  offers  were  received.  It  was  ultimately 
agreed  that  trial  bores  be  put  down  by  one  of  the  offerers  at 
the  mutual  expense  of  himself  and  the  Council.  The  boring 
failed  to  find  a  workable  coal,  and  operations  ceased.  The 
amount  spent  in  this  venture  was  about  £100.  A  proposal 
was  made  to  continue  the  work,  and  the  sense  of  the 
inhabitants  was  taken  by  a  plebiscite,  when  out  of  150 
papers  sent  in  only  34  voted  for  further  boring.  The  journal 
of  the  bore  was  subsequently  submitted  to  a  skilled  engineer 
in  Edinburgh  for  his  opinion.  He  advised  the  discontinuance 
of  further  search,  whereupon  the  project  was  abandoned. 

March,  1879. — Another  unfortunate  enterprise  was  that 
of  attempting  to  convert  the  Green  Loch  into  a  meadow. 
The  authors  were  very  sanguine.  So  confident  were  they  of 
success  that  they  were  content  to  propose  the  treatment  of 
only  about  an  acre  at  first.  This  proved  the  proverbial  thin 
end  of  the  wedge.  Gradually  the  scheme  developed  till  the 
whole  area  was  included.  And  all  this  in  face  of  the  unani- 
mous opinion  of  several  of  the  most  prominent  farmers  in 
the  district  that  the  nature  of  the  ground  was  such  as  to 
make  its  conversion  into  a  meadow  hopeless.  The  keen 
controversy  that  had  arisen  over  this  scheme  was  now  embit- 
tered by  the  refusal  of  the  dominant  party  in  the  Council  to 
allow  the  curlers  to  darn  the  loch  during  the  winter  months, 
on  the  plea  that  to  flood  the  ground  would  jeopardise  the 
working  of  the  drains,  and,  therefore,  the  success  of  the 
whole  experiment.  The  curlers  pleaded  in  vain  that  they 
had  received  guarantees  from  the  Council  that  nothing  would 
be  done  to  limit  their  privileges.  The  ground  upon  which 
so  much  had  been  spent  shewed  no  signs  of  becoming  much 
more  productive  than  it  had  previously  been,  and  what 
between  the  dissatisfaction  of  the  inhabitants  over  so  much 
money  wasted  and  the  indignation  of  the  curlers  over  the 

History  of  Sanquhar.  239 

loss  of  their  ancient  privileges,  the  Council  had  a  hot  time  of 
it.  With  the  view  of  pacifying  the  latter,  various  schemes 
were  proposed  for  providing  them  with  a  substitute  for  the 
Green  Loch,  but  they  kept  clamouring  for  their  old  loch,  and 
prophesied  failure  to  each  successive  proposal  of  the  Council. 
The  opinion  of  five  farmers  of  the  neighbourhood  was  asked 
by  the  Council  as  to  whether  the  flooding  of  the  loch  by  the 
curlers  would  injure  the  improvements.  Their  answer  was 
that  it  would  not,  with  the  exception  of  the  lime  that  had 
been  laid  on  the  ground.  Determined  not  to  yield,  but 
conscious  that  the  curlers  had  claims  upon  them  which  they 
could  not  ignore,  the  Council  set  to  construct  an  embankment 
and  sluice  so  as  to  enlarge  the  Black  Loch,  and  spent  a 
considerable  sum  in  so  doing.  The  attempt  proved  a  failure, 
the  area  of  that  loch  being  only  slightly  enlarged  for  the 
time,  and  ultimately,  in  spite  of  the  engineering  works,  it 
shrunk  to  its  former  size.  With  the  annual  election  of  Coun- 
cillors came  the  day  of  reckoning.  The  indictment  included 
the  boring  for  the  coal  as  well  as  these  agricultural  experi- 
ments. Lively  election  meetings  were  held  beforehand,  and 
the  election  was  keen  and  bitter.  The  old  party  was  turned 
out.  Some  did  not  care  to  face  the  ordeal  of  election,  and 
retired,  and  the  bolder  spirits  who  went  to  the  poll  were 
decisively  defeated.  Another  stormy  period  of  municipal 
history  thus  terminated. 

Still  another  question  which  caused  some,  excitement  and 
bad  feeling  during  this  period  was  the  powers  of  the  Dean 
of  Guild,  which  arose  in  connection  with  the  unroofing  of  a 
small  house  at  the  Corseburn,  which  stood  out  on  the  line  of 
street  beyond  those  on  either  side  of  it.  The  Dean  con- 
sidered that  he  was  entitled  to  prevent  the  proprietor  from 
improving  the  house,  and  increasing  its  stability  ;  in  fact, 
that  the  roof  having  been  taken  off,  the  house  should  be 
taken  back  to  the  general  line.  He  brought  the  matter 
before  the  Council  for  advice  and  direction,  but  they  left  it 
to  him  to  act  on  his  own  discretion.  Interdict  was  applied 

240  History  of  Sanqukar. 

for,  but  the  Sheriff's  decision  was  against  the  Dean.     The 
respondent  then  raised  a  claim  for  damages. 

4<th  April,  1881. — A  movement  was  now  on  foot  for  the 
erection  of  a  new  Public  Hall  by  means  of  a  Limited  Liability 
Company,  and  a  letter  was  sent  by  the  Chairman  of  the 
Company  asking  the  co-operation  of  the  Town  Council  in 
the  attainment  of  this  desirable  object.  For  some  unaccount- 
able reason  a  large  section  of  the  Council  looked  askance  at 
the  movement,  and  strangely  enough  when  the  sense  of  the 
inhabitants  was  taken  the  majority  approved  of  their  attitude. 
The  Council,  thereupon,  declined  to  have  anything  to  do  with 
it,  the  excuse  being  that  the  finances  of  the  town  had  been 
brought  into  such  a  state  that  they  were  not  in  a  position  to 
subscribe.  The  resolution  of  the  Council,  whether  prompted 
by  duty  or  inclination,  need  not,  however,  have  affected  the 
support  by  the  community  individually  of  an  object  for  which 
there  had  been  a  recognised  necessity  for  many  years.  In 
truth,  no  public  meeting  or  entertainment  of  any  importance 
could  now  be  held  in  the  town  owing  to  the  withdrawal  by 
the  educational  authorities  of  the  use  for  such  purposes  of 
the  schools.  It  was  in  these  circumstances  that  the  move- 
ment by  gentlemen  in  the  neighbourhood,  aided  by  a  few  of 
the  more  enlightened  of  the  townspeople,  for  the  erection  of 
a  hall  commensurate  with  the  needs  of  the  population  and 
an  architectural  adornment  to  the  town  was  received  not 
only  with  apathetic  indifference,  but  with  a- thinly-veiled 
hostility,  and  only  a  very  few  subscriptions  were  obtained  in 
the  burgh.  Happily  the  promoters  were  not  discouraged  by 
this  antagonism.  It  was  resolved  to  proceed  by  the  forma- 
tion of  a  Limited  Liability  Company,  with  shares  of  £1  each. 
The  matter  was  pushed  with  considerable  energy,  and  at 
length  nearly  1100  shares  were  subscribed.  A  most  eligible 
site  at  the  junction  of  the  two  roads  behind  the  old  Town 
Hall  was  obtained  from  the  Duke  of  Buccleuch  at  a  nominal 
rent,  whereon  a  handsome  hall,  with  ante-rooms  and  keeper's 
bouse  attached,  was  erected.  The  building  has  an  elegant 

History  of  Sanquhar.  241 

ornamental  front  looking  down  the  street,  and  measures  80 
by  40  feet.  The  ground  is  enclosed  by  a  parapet  wall  and 
iron  railing.  The  Hall  was  opened  on  16th  January, 
1882,  with  a  grand  concert  given  by  the  Dumfries 
Philharmonic  Society,  conducted  by  Sheriff  Hope.  When 
all  had  been  completed,  it  was  found  that  about  £500  would 
be  required  to  clear  the  building  of  debt,  and  it  was  resolved 
to  endeavour  to  raise  this  sum  by  a  bazaar,  which  was  held 
on  the  22nd  and  23rd  October,  1885,  and  proved  successful 
beyond  all  expectation.  Contributions  poured  in  from  all 
quarters,  and,  when  the  opening  took  place  by  the  Duke  and 
Duchess  of  Buccleuch,  the  stalls  were  found  to  be  loaded 
with  materials  of  great  richness  and  beauty.  It  was  feared 
that  these  would  never  be  disposed  of,  but  a  different  spirit 
now  animated  the  whole  community.  They  had  realised  the 
great  advantages  the  town  would  derive  from  this  institution, 
and  they  made  ample  amends  for  their  former  apathy  by 
co-operating  in  the  most  hearty  manner  to  secure  its  success. 
The  Hall  was  well  filled  both  days,  and  on  the  evening  of 
the  last  day  of  the  bazaar  it  was  literally  packed  with  an 
eager  crowd,  by  whom  the  stalls  were  effectually  cleared. 
The  drawings  amounted  to  over  £1130.  The  debt  was  dis- 
charged, various  improvements  on  the  original  design  were 
carried  out,  and  the  balance  of  £300  was  invested.  By  a 
provision  of  the  original  prospectus  of  the  Company,  funds 
received,  other  than  shares,  rank  as  capital,  and  the  dividends 
thereon  are  to  be  devoted  to  some  local  object  of  a  public 
and  unsectarian  character ;  so  that  whatever  dividends  may 
be  declared  will  be  divisible  almost  equally  between  the 
shareholders  and  the  public. 

February,  1883. — The  propriety  of  having  a  fire-hose  was 
now  urged,  and  a  proposal  made  to  raise  the  amount  by 
public  subscription,  this  being  a  period  of  enforced  economy 
on  the  part  of  the  Council.  The  public,  however,  did  not 
respond,  and  some  time  after,  the  funds  of  the  Council 
having  somewhat  recovered,  the  hose  was  provided  by  them. 


242  History  of  Sanquhar. 

llth  September,  1883.  —  The  Council  subscribed  five 
guineas  to  the  National  Memorial  to  the  Duke  of  Buccleuch, 
and  a  further  sum  of  £41  10s  6d  was  collected  in  the 
district  by  private  subscription  for  the  same  object. 

22nd  January,  1884. — A  new  source  of  wealth  in  the 
Muir  was  now  supposed  to  be  discovered  in  the  form  of  a 
seam  of  Fire-clay.  A  sample  was  submitted  to  a  firm  of 
potters  for  experiment,  by  whom  a  variety  of  goods  was 
manufactured  with  it.  Proposals  were  made  by  another 
firm  for  its  working,  but  these  were  not  satisfactory,  and  it 
proved  a  failure. 

6th  December,  1889. — These  extracts  are  brought  to  a 
close  with  a  notice  of  the  adoption  of  the  Police  Act,  and  the 
subsequent  application  to  the  Sheriff  for  the  extension  of  the 
boundaries  of  the  burgh,  which  was  granted.  This  important 
step  was  intimately  connected  with — was  the  natural  com- 
plement of — another  movement  which  had  originated  outside 
the  Council,  to  procure  building  facilities  from  the  Duke  of 
Buccleuch  and  tfoe  other  landowners  in  the  burgh  and 
immediate  neighbourhood.  The  first  step  in  this  direction 
was  in  1878  when  the  Council,  acting  on  the  suggestion  of 
certain  inhabitants,  petitioned  the  Duke  on  the  subject,  but 
nothing  came  of  it.  In  the  interim,  however,  the  question 
had  assumed  a  different  aspect.  It  had  grown  from  being  a 
local  till  it  had  become  a  national  question.  The  pent-up 
condition  of  great  masses  of  the  population  in  our  large 
towns  was  engaging  the  attention  of  leading  public  men,  and 
by-and-by  the  question  was  introduced  into  the  House  of 
Commons.  The  whole  subject  was  discussed  on  various 
occasions,  and  it  was  seen  that  the  views,  not  only  of  states- 
men, but  also  of  the  larger  landowners,  had  undergone  an 
important  change.  The  majority  of  the  latter  had  hitherto 
stood  upon  their  abstract  rights,  and  had  shewn  no  great 
readiness  to  assist,  but  rather  an  inclination  to  discourage, 
the  development  of  towns  and  the  consequent  increase  of 
population  ;  but  now  their  tone  was  altered.  Local  interest 
was  stirred  by  the  increase  in  recent  years  of  summer  visitors 

History  of  Sanquhar.  243 

to  Sanquhar,  and  its  growing  popularity  as  a  health  resort. 
House  accommodation  was  not  sufficient  to  meet  the 
demand,  and  there  was  no  opportunity  afforded  for  the 
erection  of  houses  suited  for  those  persons,  natives  and 
others,  who  might  be  disposed  to  take  up  their  permanent 
residence  here.  A  public  meeting  was  called,  at  which  the 
matter  was  discussed  with  great  interest  ;  negotiations  were 
opened  with  the  Duke  of  Buccleuch,  and  His  Grace  received 
in  November,  1889,  a  deputation,  who  laid  the  case  before 
him.  The  Duke,  to  the  satisfaction  and  delight  of  the 
deputation,  declared  his  willingness  to  abandon  the  policy 
that  had  hitherto  prevailed  on  the  estate  with  regard  to 
building  facilities,  and  to  grant  perpetual  feus.  His  Grace, 
in  his  remarks,  shewed  that  he  had  an  enlightened  concep- 
tion of  the  duties  of  landowners  in  regard  to  the  housing  of 
the  population  on  their  estates,  and  more  particularly  of  the 
working  classes.  The  belief  was  fondly  cherished  that  this 
interview  marked  a  new  departure,  which  would  be  fraught 
with  the  greatest  benefit  to  the  town,  and  steps  were  taken 
for  forming  a  Building  Society.  Meanwhile,  the  conditions 
of  the  feus  were  anxiously  awaited,  and  a  keen  feeling  of 
disappointment  prevailed  when  it  was  learned  that  these 
were  of  such  a  nature  as  to  altogether  exclude  working  men 
from  the  benefit  of  the  scheme.  The  feu-duty  was  con- 
sidered, for  such  a  place  as  Sanquhar,  exorbitant,  and  the 
stipulations  otherwise  as  to  the  obligations  of  feuars  were  of 
such  a  nature  as  to  effectually  frustrate  His  Grace's  pro- 
fessed good  intentions  with  regard  to  the  dwellings  of  the 
poor,  and  to  prevent  anything  more  being  heard  of  the  move- 
ment. The  prevailing  opinion  in  the  district,  therefore, 
now  is  that  in  legislative  interference  alone  lie  the  hopes  in 
this  connection  of  communities  so  situated  as  that  of 

244  History  of  Sanquhar. 


The  new  or  present  Council  House  was  erected  in  1731. 
In  that  year  "  the  Provost,  Baillies,  and  Council  considering 
that  the  Tolbooth  of  this  Burgh  is  very  insufficient  and 
almost  ruinous,  and  that  it  is  absolutely  necessary  that  a 
New  Tolbooth  be  built,"  appointed  a  general  meeting  of  all 
the  Council,  Deacons  of  Crafts,  and  Heritors  within  the 
Burgh  to  be  held  "against  this  day  eight  days,  those  that 
are  within  the  Burgh  to  be  present  under  the  penalty  of  ten 
merks  Scots."  At  this  meeting  "  it  was  moved  .that  the 
situation  of  the  said  Tolbooth  should  be  determined  by 
publick  vote,  which  was  agreed  to,  and  the  vote  stated 
accordingly.  It  was  carried  by  a  plurality  of  voices  that  the 
present  situation  was  the  most  proper ;  and,  considering  that 
some  pretensions  are  made  to  the  Volts  below  the  said 
Tolbooth,  and  to  the  vacant  ground  at  the  end  thereof, 
therefore  they  appoint  all  Pretenders  to  produce  their  rights 
that  the  same  may  be  seen  and  considered  how  far  they  are 
good,  and  Recommend  to  the  Provost  to  make  a  Draught  of 
the  said  Tolbooth  and  steeple  to  be  built  at  the  end  thereof." 

There  is  no  record  of  the  building  of  this  first  Tolbooth, 
but  in  all  likelihood  it  was  erected  about  the  time  when 
Sanquhar  was  created  a  Burgh  of  Barony,  in  the  latter  part 
of  the  fifteenth  century  ;  for,  so  far  back  as  1682,  a  petition 
was  presented  to  the  Royal  Convention  of  Burghs  for  a  grant 
in  aid  of  its  repair.  Nor  do  we  know  anything  of  its  style  of 
architecture  ;  but  probably,  like  its  successor,  it  was  more 
notable  for  strength  than  elegance. 

The  present  Council  House  is  a  strong,  substantial 
structure  of  two  storeys,  surmounted  by  a  bell-tower.  The 
walls  of  the  tower  are  over  three  feet  in  thickness.  Dr 
Simpson,  in  his  History,  quotes  from  a  document,  the  nature 
of  which,  however,  he  does  not  specify,  which  records  a 
resolution  similar  in  terms  to  the  above,  and  indicates  that 
the  town  house  was  put  up  by  the  Duke  of  Queensberry  at 
his  own  expense,  on  a  plan  submitted  by  his  Grace.  Now, 

History  of  Sanquhar.  245 

the  authenticity  of  this  document  is  doubtful,  from  the  fact 
that  the  terms  of  the  resolution  which  it  contains,  though 
they  resemble,  do  not  correspond  with  those  found  in  the 
Council  Minute  Book.  Further,  it  is  dated  1735,  and  gives 
the  name  of  Abraham  Crichton  of  Carco  as  Provost,  whereas 
Abraham  Crichton  of  Carco  was  only  Provost  from  May  to 
September  of  1734.  Nor  is  there  any  trace  of  an  acknow- 
ledgment, which,  it  is  natural  to  suppose,  would  have  been 
made,  of  the  Duke's  great  service  to  the  town  if  he  did  build 
the  Council  House.  Be  that  as  it  may,  there  is  no  doubt 
that  the  stones  were  taken  from  the  old  Castle,  and  it  is 
certainly  a  matter  of  regret  that  the  Duke,  and  for  that 
matter  the  people  of  Sanquhar,  should  have  had  so  little 
antiquarian  taste,  and  so  little  respect  for  the  interesting 
historical  associations  of  the  ancient  peel  that  they  should 
thus  have  turned  it  into  a  quarry. 

Grose,  in  his  "Antiquities,"  says — "This  Castle  was  the 
chief  residence  of  the  family  of  Queensberry.  .  .  .  His 
son  not  having  the  same  predilection  for  the  Castle  it  was 
neglected,  and  suffered  to  be  stripped  of  its  leaden  roof,  and 
its  materials  torn  down  for  other  buildings,  so  that  in  a  few 
years  not  a  trace  of  its  former  magnificence  will  remain. 
This  is  the  more  probable  as  its  vicinity  to  the  borough  of 
Sanquhar  makes  its  stone  extremely  convenient  for  erecting 
houses  in  that  place." 

Not  only  was  the  stone  for  the  Council  House  found  at 
the  Castle,  but  probably  other  material  as  well.  At  the 
repair  of  the  dome  of  the  tower  some  years  ago,  it  was  found 
that  the  covering  of  lead  had  belonged  to  another  building, 
probably  the  Castle,  where  it  had  covered  one  of  the  towers 
or  turrets.  The  lead  had  been  found  too  small  for  the  tower 
of  the  Council  House,  and  had  been  enlarged  by  the  addition 
of  a  piece  several  inches  in  depth,  and  of  a  different  thickness, 
carried  right  round  the  bottom. 

The  ground  storey  contains  several  vaulted  chambers, 
which  were  used  as  the  jail.  Those  in  the  centre,  under  the 

246  History  of  Sanquhar. 

tower,  were  entered — first  by  an  iron  gate,  then  by  an  inner 
door,  and,  in  the  space  between  these,  prisoners  took  air  and 
exercise.  The  room  on  the  south-west  side  is  of  more 
modern  style,  and  is  that  of  which  the  magistrates  gave  the 
free  use  for  many  years  to  a  succession  of  schoolmasters. 
During  the  construction  of  the  railway  it  was  let  to  one  of 
the  contractors  for  an  office,  a  door  being  broken  out  in  the 
wall  for  his  convenience,  but  to  the  disfigurement  of  the  build- 
ing. On  the  same  side  there  has  been  a  door  in  the  upper 
storey  which  has  been  built  up.  Both  these  doorways  now 
do  duty  as  windows.  Most  of  the  windows  were  protected 
with  stanchions,  but  these  were  removed  in  1846.  The  upper 
storey  is  reached  by  a  double  stair,  which  would  appear  to 
have  been  unprotected  for  a  considerable  time,  for  in  1808  the 
Council  resolved  to  repair  the  stair,  "and  to  fix  an  iron  rail- 
ing thereon"  From  the  vestibule  access  is  had  to  the  three 
rooms,  that  to  the  right  being  the  place  of  public  meeting, 
where  the  periodical  small  debt  courts  were  held,  and  which 
is  now  used  as  a  recreation  room.  To  the  left  is  the  Council 
chamber,  which  contains  the  library,  and  is  used  as  a  reading 
room.  In  the  centre  is  the  Clerk's  chamber, so  called  because  in 
it  were  kept  the  records  of  the  Burgh.  In  1781  the  Magistrates 
and  Council  made  arrangements  for  fitting  up  the  Clerk's 
chamber  with  doors  and  shelves,  and  it  is  stated  that  "  the 
most  part  of  the  Records  is  this  day  Lodged  in  the  said 
Chamber  in  the  Press  with  the  Iron  gate  and  shelves  in 
which  there  is  three  Locks  and  in  the  other  Press  with  the 
wooden  door  one  Lock  which  is  ordered  for  the  Dean  of  Guild 
for  Keeping  weights  and  other  necessaries,  which  Key  he  is 
to  keep,  and  the  three  keys  upon  the  Iron  door  one  of  them 
Lodged  with  the  Provost,  and  the  two  other  keys  one  with 
each  of  the  eldest  Baillies." 

From  the  corner  of  the  vestibule  springs  the  narrow  stair 
leading  to  the  clock  and  bell  and  to  another  jail — a  room 
under  the  roof,  which  contained  two  beds.  This  room  was 
lighted  by  a  sky-light,  which  was  not  fastened.  The  more 

History  of  Sanquhar.  247 

daring  of  the  prisoners,  therefore,  had  no  difficulty  in  going 
in  and  out  as  they  pleased.  Being  often  young  fellows  of 
the  town  who  had  got  into  a  scrape,  they  had  no  temptation 
to  make  their  escape,  for,  unless  they  left  the  town,  they 
would  only  have  been  apprehended  again ;  but  they  contrived 
to  lighten  their  confinement  by  nightly  escapades,  for, 
clambering  on  to  the  roof,  they  would  work  their  way  round 
to  the  back,  where  a  smithy  stood  close  to  the  wall,  by  which 
they  easily  reached  the  ground,  and  spent  the  greater  part 
of  the  night  with  their  friends,  or  perhaps  their  sweethearts, 
returning  to  their  place  before  daylight,  nobody  being  a 
penny  the  worse  or  the  wiser.  An  instance  of  the  kind  is 
related  in  an  old  magazine,  where  we  read  that  "  the  beadle 
of  the  parish  of  Durisdeer  was  imprisoned  in  the  Sanquhar 
jail  for  a  small  debt  about  three  o'clock  in  the  morning,  and 
made  his  exit  the  same  afternoon  through  the  window  of  his 
apartment.  At  dusk  the  same  evening  he  returned,  and 
attempted  to  effect  an  entrance  through  the  aperture  by 
which  he  had  made  his  escape,  but  not  rinding  that  practi- 
cable, on  account  of  a  huge  bundle  of  blankets  he  had  lashed 
to  his  back,  he  waited  upon  the  jailer,  and  requested  the 
favour  of  him  to  throw  open  the  portals  for  his  re-admission, 
at  the  same  time  assigning  as  a  reason  for  taking  French 
leave  in  the  earlier  part  of  the  day  '  that  the  nichts  waur 
grown  gey  cauld  noo,  an'  he  thocht  he  wauldna'  be  muckle 
misst,  till  he  steppit  his  waas  hame,  an'  brocht  up  twa  three 
pair  of  blankets  to  keep  him  warm  at  e'en.' "  Other 
prisoners,  who  were  not  nimble  enough  for  such  an  escapade, 
had  the  rigour  of  their  situation  relieved  through  an  ingeni- 
ous method  by  which,  with  the  co-operation  of  their  friends 
outside,  they  managed  to  secure  a  measure  of  the  comforts  of 
life.  The  prisoners  do  not  appear  to  have  been  searched 
on  their  committal,  and  it  was  no  uncommon  thing  for 
them  to  be  provided  with  a  stout  string,  which  they  let 
down  through  the  window  and  over  the  slates  to  the  ground, 
where  friends  were  in  readiness  to  attach  a  basket  or  a  bottle, 

248  History  of  Sanquhur. 

or  both,  and  thus  they  had  a  jolly  enough  time  of  it ;  indeed, 
some  of  them  used  to  say  they  were  never  so  well  off  as  when 
they  were  in  durance  vile. 

There  was  also,  as  has  been  said,  a  jail  on  the  ground  floor. 
If  the  upper  jail  was  a  free  and  easy  institution,  this  was  a 
tight  enough  place  with  its  heavy  oaken  door  arid  grated 
windows.  On  one  occasion  Henry  Wright  was  its  inmate. 
Henry  was  a  mischievous  dog.  He  set  fire  to  some  straw 
that  was  in  the  place,  but  the  fire  spread  beyond  his 
calculations,  and  he  was  in  imminent  danger  of  being  burnt 
or  suffocated.  Smoke  was  seen  issuing  from  the  window, 
and  Henry's  face,  white  with  terror,  and  his  voice  calling 
loudly  for  help,  speedily  drew  .a  crowd  of  people,  and  he 
was  rescued.  He  proved  in  after  life  a  dreadful  pest,  wan- 
dering up  and  down  the  country  from  London  to  the  north 
of  Scotland,  and  if  a  single  native  of  Sanquhar  were  settled 
in  any  town,  Henry  would  contrive  to  find  him  out.  Nobody 
ever  could  understand  how,  even  in  the  labyrinths  of  London, 
he  would  pursue  his  search  till  he  had  succeeded.  And 
Henry  was  "  none  blate."  No  matter  though  it  had  been  the 
most  elegant  mansion  in  the  city,  he  would  march  boldly  up 
to  the  front  door  and  pursue  his  inquiry.  His  mission,  of 
course,  was  a  begging  one.  Everybody  served  him  instantly 
so  as  to  get  the  ragged  wretch  away,  and  he  knew  it,  and, 
therefore,  the  more  aristocratic  the  locality  so  much  the 
better  for  Henry's  purpose.  He  had  an  iron  constitution, 
which  he  wasted  in  a  long  life  of  continuous  debauchery.  In 
his  later  years  he  cost  the  parish  hundreds  of  pounds  in  relief 
afforded  to  him  in  various  towns  where  he  had  broken  down. 
Time  after  time  was  he  removed  to  the  poorhouse,  but  his 
free,  vagabond  spirit  could  not  brook  the  discipline  and 
restraints  of  such  a  place,  and  so  soon  as  he  could  crawl  he 
was  off.  He  struggled  hard  to  keep  on  the  road,  but  old  age 
and  infirmities  compelled  him  to  surrender  at  last,  and, 
ultimately  his  mental  faculties  giving  way,  he  was  removed 
to  the  Asylum  at  Dumfries,  where  he  died  three  years  ago. 

History  of  Sanquhar.  249 

In  the  year  1857,  the  Council  erected  a  new  clock  and 
bell  in  the  Tower  at  a  cost  of  about  £100,  to  which  the  Duke 
of  Buccleuch  subscribed  £25. 

In  1860,  the  old  smithy  which  stood  behind  the  Hall,  and 
by  which  the  prisoners  from  the  upper  jail  descended,  was 
removed.  The  smithy  was  long  the  workshop  of  John 
Hyslop,  "  the  Convener,"  as  he  was  called.  The  boundary 
of  the  burgh  ran  through  between  the  hearth  and  the  study, 
and  so  it  came  that  the  Convener  could,  as  he  said,  stand 
with  one  foot  within  and  the  other  without  the  burgh,  heat 
his  iron  without  and  hammer  it  within  without  moving  from 
the  spot. 


A  bridge  over  the  river  Nith,  opposite  the  town  of 
Sanquhar,  has  existed  from  time  immemorial.  It  is  quite 
natural  to  expect  this,  for  Sanquhar  was  in  the  natural 
line  of  route  between  the  eastern  and  western  sides  of 
the  country.  The  glens  up  Crawick  and  Mennock  gave 
access  to  the  valleys  of  the  Clyde  and  Tweed  and  all  the  east 
country,  while,  on  the  western  side,  there  was  a  mountain 
path  over  the  Whing,  leading  to  the  head  of  the  valley  of 
the  Ken,  which  formed  a  gateway  to  the  whole  territory  of 
Galloway.  A  bridge  at  Sanquhar  over  the  river  was  there- 
fore all  that  was  necessary  to  complete  the  communication, 
and,  though  the  passenger  traffic  could  not  be  great  in  a 
thinly-populated  district,  there  would  be  a  large  traffic  in 
cattle  and  sheep  along  this  route.  There  is  a  drove  road 
still  in  existence,  which  forms  a  very  direct  communication 
between  east  and  west.  Mention  is  made  in  the  Charter  of 
the  Burgh  in  1598  of  a  bridge,  which  must  then  have  been 
in  existence.  This  document  grants  to  the  Provost,  Bailies, 
Councillors,  community,  and  inhabitants  of  the  burgh,  and 
their  successors  for  ever,  "  the  bridge  of  the  said  Burgh." 
Again,  the  bridge  is  mentioned  in  an  Act  of  the  Scottish 


250  History  of  Sanquliar. 

Parliament,  passed  in  1661,  which  sets  forth  its  importance 
to  the  whole  of  the  lowlands  of  Scotland.  The  Act  runs  as 
follows  : — 

"  A.D.  1661.  Act  in  favours  of  the  Burgh  of  Sanquhar — Our  Sovereign 
Lord  and  Estates  of  Parliament,  takeing  to  the  consideration  a  supplication 
presented  to  them  by  Johne  Williamson,  Commissioner  for  the  Burgh  of 
Sanquhar,  in  name  and  behalff  of  the  said  Burgh,  Shewing  that  the  said 
Burgh  of  Sanquhar,  being  situat  and  builded  upon  the  Water  of  Nyth,  ane 
verie  great  considerable  river,  which  in  the  Winter  tyme  is  nowayes  passable 
at  the  beist  dureing  the  tyme  of  any  raine  or  storme.  The  bridge  which 
wes  therupon  being  now  totallie  fallen  down  and  ruined,  which  is  very 
prejudiciall  not  only  to  the  said  burgh,  but  also  to  the  haill  cuntrie  neir 
the  saime,  and  all  others  who  have  occasion  to  passe  that  way,  who  sum- 
tyme  will  be  forced  to  stay  three  or  four  dayes  er  they  can  passe  over  the 
said  water.  And  the  said  burgh,  thro  the  calamities  of  the  tyme  and 
great  sufferings  they  have  had,  are  now  redacted  to  such  povertie  as  they 
are  noways  able  to  build  up  the  said  bridge,  which  so  much  concernss  the 
weill.  of  the  said  burgh  and  the  publict  good  of  that  cuntrie.  And,  there- 
for, craveing  ane  recommendation  to  the  severalle  presbetries  within  this 
kingdom  upon  this  side  of  fforth  (the  river  Forth)  for  help  and  supplie  for 
building  up  the  said  bridge,  which  so  much  concerncs  the  weill  of  the  said 
burgh  and  all  that  Cuntrie.  And  also  seeing  that  such  a  contribution  will 
be  unconsiderable  for  so  great  a  work,  therefor  also  craveing  ane  certaine 
small  custome  to  be  payed  at  the  said  bridge  for  such  years  and  off  such 
persones  and  goods  as  should  be  thought  fit.  And  having  considered  ane 
testificate  of  verie  many  Noblemen  and  Gentlemen  in  the  shire  and  circum- 
jacent bounds,  Testifieing  the  necessity  and  conveniencie  of  the  said  bridge, 
and  haveing  heard  the  said  Johne  Williamson  thereanent,  who  in  name  of 
the  said  burgh,  had  undertaken  the  building  of  the  same  bridge  within  the 
space  of  two  years.  And  haveing  also  considered  the  report  of  the  Com- 
missioners of  Parliament  appointed  for  bills  and  tradeing  (to  whom  the 
said  mater  was  referred)  thereanent,  His  Majestic,  with  advice  and  consent 
of  the  said  Estates  of  Parliament,  Have  ordained  and  ordaines  ane  contribu- 
tion and  Voluntar  collection  to  be  made  and  ingathered  within  all  parodies, 
both  in  burgh  and  landward,  on  the  South  side  of  the  water  of  fforth,  for 
building  of  the  said  bridge.  And  that  either  personally  or  parochially,  as 
the  Magistrats  of  the  said  burgh  shall  desire.  And  hereby  Seriously 
Recommends  to  and  require  all  Noblemen,  Gentlemen,  Magistrats  and 
Ministers  of  the  law  and  gospell,  within  the  said  bounds,  to  be  assisting  to 
the  said  Magistrats  of  Sanquhar  for  so  good  a  work,  and  for  ane  liberall 
Contribution  for  that  effect.  And  seeing  that  it  is  expected  that  the  fore- 
said  collection  will  not  be  so  considerable  as  to  defray  the  charges  of  so 
great  a  work,  Therfor  His  Majestic,  with  advice  and  consent  foresaid,  hath 
given  and  granted,  and  hereby  give  and  grant,  to  the  said  burgh,  ane 

History  of  Sanquhar.  251 

custome  to  be  lifted  by  them,  or  any  other  they  shall  appoint  for  uplifting, 
thairof,  for  the  space  of  Twentie-seven  yeers  after  the  building  thairof,  at 
the  rates  following — viz.,  for  ilk  footman  or  woman,  two  jpennies  Scots,  for 
ilk  nolt  beast  or  single  horse,  four  pennies,  for  ilk  horse  with  his  load  or 
rydder,  six  pennies  Scots,  And  for  ilk  sheip  two  pennies  Scots  money. 
And  ordaines  all  passengers  whatsomever  to  answer,  obay,  and  make  pay- 
ment of  the  said  custome,  at  the  rates  abovewrin,  to  the  said  burgh,  and 
their  collectors  thairof,  dureing  the  space  above-mentioned,  but  ony 
obstacle  or  objection  whatsomever.  With  power  to  the  said  Magistrats 
to  put  this  Act  to  dew  execution,  conforme  to  the  tenor  thairof  in  all 

It  was  across  this  old  bridge,  referred  to  in  the  recited 
Act  as  then  "  totallie  fallen  down  and  ruined,"  that  the 
unfortunate  Queen  (Mary)  had  been  conducted  by  Lord 
Herries  in  her  flight  from  the  disastrous  battle  of  Langside 
on  13th  May,  1568.  Tradition  has  it  that  she  rested  in 
Lord  Crichton's  town  house  in  Sanquhar,  a  two-storey  build- 
ing with  circular  stair  behind,  the  site  of  which  is  now  occu- 
pied by  the  Royal  Bank.  It  was  a  hurried  flight,  and  the 
Queen,  in  a  letter,  complains  that  she  had  "  suffered  injuries, 
calumnies,  captivity,  hunger,  cold,  heat,  flying  without 
knowing  whether  fourscore  or  twelve  miles  across  the 
country  without  once  pausing  to  light  and  than  lay  on  the 
hard  ground  having  only  sour  milk  to  drink  and  oatmeal  to 
eat  without  bread,  passing  three  nights  with  the  owls  " — 
truly  a  lengthy  catalogue  of  woes.  Having  crossed  the 
bridge,  she  was  conducted  over  the  Whing,  continuing  her 
flight  by  the  Ken  and  Dee  to  the  sanctuary  of  Dundrennan 
Abbey,  on  the  coast  of  Kirkcudbright,  whence  she  effected 
her  escape  into  England,  never  to  return. 

The  new  bridge,  for  the  erection  of  which  the  above  Act 
made  provision,  fell  in  the  course  of  time  into  disrepair.  It 
crossed  the  river  at  the  foot  of  the  brae  which  leads  from 
the  town  round  the  washing  green,  and  a  portion  of  the 
abutment  on  the  Sanquhar  side  still  remains.  It  lies 
between  two  thorn  trees,  and  is  concealed  from  view  by 
brushwood,  but  when  the  rubbish  and  undergrowth  are 
cleared  away  the  foundation  is  easily  discoverable. 

252  History  of  Sanquhar. 

A.  foot-bridge  was  erected  by  the  late  Mr  Williamson  of 
Barr  about  the  year  1810  ;  and  it  is  interesting  to  note  that, 
only  a  few  months  ago,  a  person  died  in  Sanquhar  who, 
when  a  boy,  fell  accidentally  from  this  foot-bridge  into  the 
river,  and  was  rescued  by  a  dog.  Subsequently,  when  the 
coal  on  Drumbuie  farm  came  to  be  worked,  a  wooden  bridge 
for  carts  was  erected.  There  was  an  iron  tramway  to  guide 
the  carts  over,  and  a  road  was  made  leading  down  from  the 
turnpike,  which  is  still  called  "  The  Coal  Road."  This 
wooden  bridge  fell  into  a  dangerous  state,  and  in  the  year 
1855  the  present  handsome  structure  was  erected  by  the 
Road  Trustees  on  a  site  about  fifty  yards  farther  up  the 
river,  thus  cutting  off  the  awkward  turning  of  the  road  as  it 
approached  the  bridge.  The  key-stone  of  the  bridge  was 
laid  by  Miss  Otto,  Newark. 



jLL  through  the  long  period  embraced  in  the  six- 
teenth, seventeenth,  and  the  first  half  of  the 
eighteenth  centuries,  the  social  condition  of  the 
people  underwent  little  or  no  change.  They  had 
maintained  a  gallant  and  successful  struggle  against  the 
power  of  their  Southern  neighbours.  "  How  heroic,"  it  has 
been  justly  said,  "  was  the  war  of  independence  !  Its  true 
majesty  consists  not  in  a  chance  triumph  like  Bannockburn, 
but  in  the  ardent  and  sustained  devotion  to  an  ideal,  in  the 
unfailing  courage  with  which  the  nation  arose  again,  and 
lived  and  fought  after  disasters  that  might  well  have  been 
mortal,  as  they  seemed,  in  the  unbroken  unity  of  purpose 
that  compacted  all  ranks  and  all  conditions  o?  men  into  one 
vigorous,  self-sufficing  organism."  But  though  they  had 
thus,  by  a  self-sacrificing  gallantry  which  has  attracted  the 
admiration  of  all  succeeding  generations,  maintained  their 
country's  liberties,  and  though  the  principle  of  freedom  in 
the  abstract  was  well  enough  understood  by  them,  still,  dur- 
ing the  period  that  succeeded,  down  to  the  middle  of  the 
eighteenth  century,  personal  freedom  was  a  privilege  of 
which  the  common  people  throughout  the  country  knew 
little  or  nothing.  They  had  won  their  country  not  for  them- 
selves, but  for  the  chieftains  and  lairds.  They  had  success- 
fully resisted  the  English  yoke,  only  to  fall  under  the  yoke 
of  petty  tyrants  of  their  own  flesh  and  blood.  These  barons, 
armed  with  feudal  power,  were  ignorant  and  over-bearing, 

254  History  of  Sanquhar. 

tyrannical  and  cruel.  The  Government  was  not  yet  strong 
enough  to  keep  them  under  control,  and  the  people  who 
lived  within  their  domains  were  entirely  at  their  mercy.  They 
lived  in  strongholds,  whose  grim  walls,  grated  windows,  and 
iron  doors  bore  testimony  to  the  fact  that  it  was  on  brute 
force  alone  they  relied  for  the  maintenance  of  their  position. 
Within  these  castles  or  keeps  they  led  a  comparatively  idle 
life,  and  sallied  forth  at  intervals,  followed  by  their  half- 
naked,  half-starved  menials,  to  plunder  a  less  watchful 
neighbour,  or  to  execute  reprisals  for  a  raid  perpetrated  upon 
themselves  on  some  previous  occasion.  Perhaps  the  last 
instance  of  these  sanguinary  encounters  that  occurred 
between  neighbouring  lairds  in  this  part  of  the  country  is 
that  which  was  fought  out  at"  the  Moss  of  Knockonie,  which 
is  a  portion  of  the  farm  of  Coshogle,  and,  being  in  the 
ancient  parish  of  Kirkbride,  was  annexed,  as  is  elsewhere 
explained,  to  the  parish  of  Sauquhar,  the  remainder  of 
Coshogle  being  added  to  the  parish  of  Durisdeer.  The 
following  quaintly  worded  account  of  the  affray  is  derived 
from  Pitcairn's  Letters  : — 

"  A  small  private  war  between  the  lairds  of  Drumlanrig  and  Cashogle 
came  to  a  bearing  this  day  (May  12  1621),  at  the  Moss  of  Knockonie. 
This  moss  belonged  to  David  Douglas,  brother  to  Drumlanrig,  but  Cashogle 
had  always  been  allowed  to  raise  peats  from  it  for  his  winter  fuel.  The 
two  lairds  having  fallen  into  a  coldness,  Cashogle  would  not  ask  this  any 
longer  as  a  favour,  but  determined  to  take  it  as  a  right.  Twice  his 
servants  were  interrupted  in  their  operations,  so  he  himself  came  one  day 
to  the  moss,  with  his  son  Robert  and  thirty-six  men  or  thereby,  armed 
with  swords,  hagbuts,  lances,  corn-forks,  and  staves.  Hereupon  the  laird 
of  Mouswald,  a  brother  of  the  proprietor  of  the  moss  (who  was  absent), 
sent  a  friend  to  remonstrate,  and  to  urge  upon  Cashogle  the  propriety  of 
his  asking  the  peats  '  out  of  love,'  instead  of  taking  them  in  contempt. 
The  Cashogle  party  returned  only  contemptuous  answers,  '  declaring  they 
would  cast  their  peats  there,  wha  wald,  wha  wald  not.'  Some  further  re- 
monstrances being  ineffectual,  Drumlanrig  himself,  accompanied  with 
friends  and  servants,  came  upon  the  scene,  shewing  that  he  had  the  royal 
authority  to  command  Cashogle  to  desist.  But  even  this  reference  failed 
to  induce  submission.  At  length  the  laird  of  Mouswald,  losing  temper, 
exclaimed — '  Ye  are  ower  pert  to  disobey  the  king  majesty's  charge : 
quickly  pack  you  and  begone.' 

History  of  Sanqu It  ar.  255 

"'Immediately,  ane  of  Cashogle's  servants,  with  ane  great  kent 
(staff),  strak  Captain  Johnston  behind  his  back,  twa  great  straiks 
upon  the  head,  whilk  made  him  fall  dead  to  the  ground  with 
great  loss  of  blood.  Then  Robert  Douglas  (son  of  Cashogle)  pre- 
sentit  ane  bended  hagbut  within  three  ells  to  the  Laird  of  Drum- 
lanrig's  breast,  whilk  at  the  pleasure  of  God  misgave.  Imme- 
diately thereafter,  Robert  of  new  morsit  the  hagbut,  and  presented 
her  again  to  him,  whilk  shot  and  missed  him  at  the  pleasure  of  God. 
Robert  Dalyell,  natural  son  to  the  Laird  of  Dalyell,  was  struck  through 
the  body  with  ane  lance,  who  cried  that  he  was  slain  ;  and  some  twa  or 
three  men  was  strucken  through  their  clothes  with  lances,  sae  that  the  haill 
company  thought  that  they  had  been  killed,  and  then  thought  it  was  time 
for  them  to  begin  to  defend  themselves  ;  whereupon  Robert  Douglas  and 
three  or  four  of  his  folk  being  hurt,  was  put  to  flight,  and  in  flying,  the 
said  Robert  fell,  where  the  Laird  of  Drumlanrig  chancit  to  be  nearest  him  ; 
wha,  notwithstanding  the  former  offer  Robert  made  to  him  with  the  hagbut, 
not  only  spared  to  strike  him  with  his  awn  hands,  but  likewise  discouraged 
all  the  rest  under  pain  of  their  lives  to  steir  him.  One  of  the  Cashogle 
party  was  slain." 

As  Pitcairn  justly  remarks,  such  an  occurrence  as  this  in 
the  South  of  Scotland,  and  amongst  men  of  rank  and  pro- 
perty, shews  strikingly  that  the  wild  blood  of  the  country 
was  yet  by  no  means  quieted.  There  was  a  mutual  prosecu- 
tion between  the  parties;  but  they  contrived  to  make  up  the 
quarrel  between  themselves  out  of  court,  and  private  satis- 
faction being,  as  usual,  deemed  enough,  the  law  interfered 
no  further. 

The  barons  took  no  interest  either  in  the  improvement  of 
their  lands  or  of  the  condition  of  the  people.  They  recognised  no 
duties  or  responsibilities  as  pertaining  to  their  position  ;  their 
sole  concern  was  in  the  maintenance  of  their  rights  and  the 
gratification  of  their  unbridled  passions.  Under  such  a  state 
of  things,  the  condition  of  the  common  people  can  be  imagined. 
As  we  have  said,  they  enjoyed  not  the  smallest  degree  of 
personal  liberty,  and  had  been,  by  centuries  of  oppression, 
well  schooled  into  unquestioning  obedience  to  the  will  of 
their  tyrannical  rulers,  or  we  might  say  their  owners,  for, 
according  to  the  feudal  system  that  was  universal,  the  people 
were  practically  slaves.  In  the  burghs,  it  is  true,  they 
enjoyed  in  some  degree  the  forms  of  self-government,  but  it 

2o6  History  of  Sanquliar. 

was  more  in  form  than  in  substance,  for  the  direction  of 
municipal  affairs  was  effectually  controlled  by  some  territorial 
magnate,  and  thus,  for  long  after  it  was  created  a  royal  burgh, 
Sanquhar  was  dominated  by  the  Crichton  family.  While 
the  lives  of  the  citizens  might  not  be  jeopardised  by  their 
rulers,  as  those  outside  were  at  the  hands  of  the  barons,  they 
were  subjected  to  numerous  petty  restrictions  in  such  matters 
as  the  articles  of  food,  the  price  of  labour,  and  other  social 
interests,  in  which  the  authorities  had  every  countenance  in 
the  sumptuary  laws  of  the  Scottish  Parliament.  In  some 
instances,  the  people  were  debarred  from  buying  and  selling 
with  those  who  had  incurred  the  displeasure  of  the  authori- 
ties— an  early  example  of  that  terrible  weapon  of  social 
persecution,  the  boycot. 

An  Englishman,  passing  through  Dumfriesshire  in  1704, 
sums  up  his  impression  of  the  condition  of  the  people  by  the 
remark  that  "  had  Cain  been  born  a  Scotchman,  his  punish- 
ment would  have  been  not  to  wander  about  but  to  stay  at 
home  ;"  and  the  Rev.  Alexander  Carlyle,  on  a  visit  to  the 
county  in  1733,  says — "  The  face  of  the  country  was  par- 
ticularly desolate,  not  having  reaped  any  benefit  from  the 
Union  of  the  Parliaments  ;  nor  was  it  recovered  from  the 
effects  of  that  century  of  wretched  government  which  pre- 
ceded the  Revolution."  This  state  of  things  continued  with- 
out mitigation  down  to  the  year  1748. 

The  peaceable  settlement,  of  the  country  was  retarded  by 
the  Rebellions  of  1715  and  1745,  but  these  were  only  the 
faint  flickerings  of  a  waning  cause  before  its  final  extinction. 
These  rebellions  shewed  how  deeply  attached  part  of  the 
Scottish  people  were  at  heart  to  the  Stuarts,  who  had  occu- 
pied the  throne  for  several  centuries,  and  had  proved  either 
feeble  and  vacillating,  totally  wanting  in  governing  capacity, 
and  too  weak  to  cope  with  a  set  of  haughty  and  turbulent 
nobles,  or  self-willed  and  cruel,  paying  little  regard  to  the 
just  and  necessary  liberties  of  the  people.  These  insurrec- 
tionary movements  were,  however,  supported  chiefly  in  the 

History  of  Sanquhar.  257 

north  country,  the  lowlands  remaining  true  to  the  Revolution 
Settlement.  It  has  to  be  borne  in  mind  that  the  principles 
of  the  Reformation  had  not  penetrated  the  Highlands  to  any 
great  extent,  and,  therefore,  the  Highlanders  had  a  religious 
as  well  as  a  political  attachment  to  a  race  who,  whatever 
their  varying  fortunes,  and  however  false  and  perfidious  they 
might  have  proved  as  rulers,  had  at  least  been  faithful  and 
constant  in  their  adherence  to  the  Roman  Catholic  religion. 
Though  there  were  some  Papists  and  Jacobites  in  Nithsdale 
and  Galloway  in  171  o,  the  great  body  of  the  people  were 
loyal  to  the  reigning  Sovereign.  Kirkcudbright  or  Loch 
Ryan  had  been  mentioned  as  a  likely  landing  place  for  the 
Chevalier,  and  measures  were  devised  to  meet  such  an 
emergency.  Major  Aikman  was  despatched  from  Edinburgh 
for  that  purpose.  He  reviewed  the  fencible  men  of  the 
upper  ward  of  Nithsdale  on  Marjory  Muir,  in  the  parish  of 
Closeburn,  and  afterwards  had  a  meeting  at  Closeburn  with 
the  leading  men  of  the  district.  Arrangements  were  made — 
"  1.  That  each  parish  be  modelled  into  companies,  and 
proper  officers  chosen  to  that  effect.  2.  That  each  parish 
exercise  twice  or  thrice  every  week.  3.  That  upon  the  first 
advice  of  the  Pretender  landing,  each  parish  should  meet  by 
themselves  in  some  convenient  place,  there  to  concert  what 
is  proper  to  be  done,  and  it  was  earnestly  desired  that  they 
should  bring  their  best  arms  and  ammunition  along  with 
•them  to  that  place.  4.  That  upon  the  first  notice  of  the 
Pretender's  arrival  at  Loch  Ryan,  Kirkcudbright,  or  in  the 
Firth  of  Leith,  Sanquhar  should  be  the  rendezvous  for  the 
western  shires  ;  together  with  other  measures.  And  lastly, 
That  the  friends  in  every  particular  district  fall  upon  ways 
or  means  to  make  the  above  said  particulars  effectual." — 
Struthers'  Hist.  The  first  blood  shed  in  this  quarter,  we 
learn  from  Rae,  was  at  Penpont,  where  one  Bell  of  Minsca,  a 
Jacobite  gentleman,  who  had  insulted  the  guards,  and  refused 
to  stand  when  the  sentries  required  him,  was  shot  by  one  of 
them  through  the  leg.  This  was  about  the  end  of  July, 


258  History  of  Sanquhar. 

1715.  "  The  gentlemen  and  people  in  the  upper  parts  of 
Nithsdale  met  at  Penpont,  where  they  rendezvou'd  four 
hundred  men,  who  performed  their  Exercises  in  Battalia, 
and  fired  all  by  Platoons,  to  the  satisfaction  of  the  best 
judges  then  present.  Besides  these,  there  were  upwards  of 
an  hundred  horsemen." — Bae's  Hist.  In  October  a  body  of 
the  rebels  was  stationed  at  Moffat,  and  warning  was  sent 
by  Lord-Justice-Clerk  Cockburn  to  Dumfries  that  it  was 
their  intention  to  attack  that  town  by  surprise.  They  broke 
up  their  camp  at  Moffat,  and  marched  straight  for  Dumfries, 
their  intention  being,  it  would  appear,  to  deliver  their  attack 
on  Sabbath,  which  was  the  Sacrament  Sabbath,  thinking 
that  on  that  day  the  community  would  be  most  completely 
off  their  guard.  But  on  their  arrival  within,  it  is  said,  a 
mile  and  a  half  of  the  town,  they  learnt  that  the  people  had 
been  apprised  of  their  coming,  and  had  made  every  possible 
preparation.  A  considerable  force  had  assembled,  for  notice 
of  the  rebels'  movements  had  been  despatched  to  the  whole 
surrounding  country,  and  the  greatest  alacrity  was  shewn  in 
answering  to  the  call.  Amongst  others  was  "  A  braham 
Creighton  of  Garland,  Provost  of  Sanquhar,  with  a  com- 
pany of  foot  from  thence,  who  being  informed  that  the 
enemy  had  invested  the  town,  mounted  themselves  on 
country  horses,  for  the  greater  expedition,  and  arrived  at 
Dumfries  on  Friday."  The  rebels,  finding  that  Dumfries 
could  not  be,  as  they  had  hoped,  taken  by  surprise,  but  was- 
in  a  position  to  make  a  sturdy  resistance,  retired  and  took 
up  quarters  at  Ecclefechan.  There  was  no  one  with  proper 
authority  to  direct  their  movements,  and  they  marched  and 
countermarched  in  the  most  aimless  fashion.  The  English 
gentlemen  declared  for  an  advance  into  England,  saying  that 
they  had  information  from  their  friends  that  a  favourable 
reception  and  aid  awaited  them  ;  but  the  Scottish  nobles 
were  opposed  to  this  as,  in  their  opinion,  rushing  on  certain 
destruction.  In  this  condition  of  matters,  with  the  leaders 
quarrelling  among  themselves,  some  advising  one  plan  of 

History  of  Sanquhar.  259 

campaign  and  others  another,  the  disaffection  spread  to  the 
men,  among  whom  the  same  divergence  of  opinion  was 
manifested  ;  and  when  a  move  was  made  in  the  direction  of 
Lougtown,  the  Scots  were  displeased,  and  the  Earl  of  Wintoun 
drew  off  with  a  part  of  his  troop.  Four  hundred  of  the 
Highlanders,  too,  refused  to  march,  and  deserted  the  main 
body,  intending  to  return  to  their  own  country,  taking  their 
route  through  the  moors  by  Lockerbie.  They  split  into  two 
parties  at  Airikstone  (Ericstane),  some  going  through  Craw- 
ford moor  towards  Douglas,  and  the  remainder  down  the  Vale 
of  the  Clyde  towards  Lamington.  The  latter  were  captured 
by  a  body,  both  horse  and  foot,  assembled  by  the  Laird  of 
Lamington  and  others,  and  were  imprisoned  in  the  church 
there.  The  miners  of  Hopetoun  (the  men  of  Leadhills)  and  of 
Wanlockhead  intercepted  the  other  party,  and  made  prisoners 
of  sixty  of  them,  the  last  stragglers  being  taken  near 

We  need  not  pursue  the  subject  of  the  rebellion  further, 
being  only  concerned  with  what  relates  to  the  local  history. 

In  the  retreat  from  Derby  during  the  rising  of  1745,  Prince 
Charlie,  when  his  army  had  crossed  the  Esk,  divided  it  into 
two  parts  ;  one  portion  he  sent  by  way  of  Ecclefechan  and 
Moffat,  and  the  remainder,  which  he  led  in  person,  continued 
their  retreat  by  Annan  and  Dumfries.  After  leaving  the 
latter  town  he  stayed  at  Drumlanrig  Castle,  of  which  he  took 
possession  for  the  night,  the  Duke  of  Queensberry  being 
absent.  He  occupied  the  state-bed,  while  a  number  of  his 
men  lay  upon  straw  in  the  great  gallery.  Before  departing 
next  day,  it  is  to  be  regretted  that  the  Highlanders  took 
that  opportunity  of  expressing  their  love  of  King  James  by 
slashing  with  their  swords  a  series  of  portraits  representing 
King  William,  Queen  Mary,  and  Queen  Anne,  which  hung 
in  the  grand  stair-case — a  present  from  the  last  of  these 
sovereigns  to  James,  Duke  of  Queensberry,  in  consideration 
of  his  services  at  the  Union.  (Chambers'  Hist,  of  the 
Rebellion.)  The  pictures  have  been  carefully  restored,  but 

260  History  of  Sanqukar. 

they  still  bear  the  marks  of  this  contemptible  act  of  Prince 
Charlie's  men.  The  line  of  retreat  taken  was  up  the  Pass 
of  Dalveen  into  Clydesdale,  their  design  being  to  march  upon 
Glasgow.  There  was,  till  recently,  in  Sanquhar  a  small 
military  drum  known  as  "  Prince  Charlie's  Drum."  Its 
story  was  that  it  was  stolen  from  a  party  as  they  rested  while 
passing  through  the  town.  This  was  not  on  the  line  of 
march,  but,  in  all  probability,  the  party  were  deserters,  for, 
after  such  a  lengthened  retreat,  the  army  must  have  fallen 
into  a  broken  and  dispirited  condition  ;  and  while  the  High- 
landers, moved  by  the  instinct  of  mutual  support  and  pro- 
tection, might  hold  together  so  long  as  they  were  in  a  strange 
country,  others  who  had  no  such  motive,  and  felt  that  the 
cause  in  which  they  had  been  engaged  was  now  hopeless, 
would  drop  off  from  time  to  time,  and  the  road  up  Nithsdale 
would  afford  to  such  a  tempting  opportunity.  The  story  at  any 
rate  was  universally  believed  in  the  beginning  of  the  century, 
and  has  been  accepted  ever  since  as  authentic.  The  drum  was 
kept  in  the  garret  of  the  old  "  doon-the-gate  "  (South  U.P.) 
Manse.  When  the  house  was  taken  down  this  relic  fell  into 
the  hands  of  a  man  living  near  by,  whose  son  sold  it  a  few 
years  ago  to  a  collector  of  curiosities  for  the  paltry  sum  of  £1. 
It  was  exhibited  lately  at  the  Military  Exhibition  held  in 
Edinburgh,  being  lent  for  that  purpose  by  his  representatives. 
These  rebellions  gave  much  trouble  to  the  government, 
and  seriously  retarded  the  material  and  social  progress  of 
the  country.  At  the  same  time,  they  were  not  an  unmixed 
evil,  for  they  afforded  a  reason,  and  a  very  sufficient  reason, 
for  stripping  the  heads  of  clans  and  feudal  lords  of  their 
powers  of  criminal  and  other  jurisdiction  which  vitally 
affected  the  lives  and  liberties  of  the  people.  The  admini- 
stration of  justice  up  to  this  period  had  been  simply  the 
expression  of  the  will,  the  arbitrary  will  of  too  often  a  petty 
and  vindictive  tyrant,  or  the  haphazard  decision  of  one  Avho, 
though  striving  to  exercise  his  powers  honestly  and  conscien- 
tiously, had  had  no  training  whatever  for  the  adequate 

History  of  Sanquhar.  261 

discharge  of  such  important  functions,  and  had  his  judgment 
perverted  by  personal  or  friendly  interests.  The  country  was 
slowly  but  surely  emerging  from  a  period  during  which  the 
privilege  and  power  of  government,  which  naturally  inhered 
in  the  Crown,  had  been  usurped  by  these  feudal  lords  who, 
each  within  his  own  territory,  held  absolute  authority,  and 
paid  but  the  scantiest  respect  to  the  legitimate  government 
of  the  kingdom.  The  country  generally  had  been  kept  in  a 
disturbed  state  for  centuries  by  the  political  ambitions  of 
nobles  and  barons,  sometimes  acting  singly,  sometimes  in 
combination,  encouraged  by  the  fact  that,  as  too  often  hap- 
pened, the  King  was  either  a  minor  or  had  not  sufficient 
firmness  and  force  of  character  to  cope  with  and  keep  in 
subjection  these  turbulent  lords.  In  the  border  district 
this  state  of  matters  was  aggravated  by  the  reiving  raids, 
which  were  almost  constantly  recurring  between  neighbour- 
ing lairds.  Holding,  as  we  have  said,  absolute  authority 
over  their  vassals  and  retainers,  they  involved  the  whole 
population  in  mutual  plunder  and  strife.  Such  a  state  of 
things  was  incompatible  with  the  advance  of  civilisation,  and 
the  time  had  arrived  when  strong  measures  might,  as  one 
writer  puts  it,  be  taken  for  "ameliorating  generally  the  insti- 
tutions of  the  Scottish  people,  and  thus  disarming  them  of 
their  ignorant  hostility  and  self-destroying  rancour,  which, 
on  every  trivial  occasion,  they  were  ready  to  put  forth  at  the 
call  of  their  interested,  capricious,  and  selfish  superiors  who, 
happening  to  be  born  lairds,  supposed  themselves  entitled  to 
their  affection,  the  fruit  of  all  their  toil,  and  the  last  drop  of 
their  blood  whensoever  they  were  pleased  to  require  it." 

An  Act  for  vesting  in  the  Crown  the  estates  of  such  of  the 
lords  as  had  been  mixed  up  in  the  traitorous  rebellion  of  '45 
was  therefore  followed  immediately  by  a  general  Act,  appli- 
cable to  the  whole  kingdom,  for  the  abolition  of  these 
heritable  jurisdictions.  Notwithstanding,  however,  the 
extent  to  which  these  powers  had  been  abused,  the  holders 
were  treated  bv  the  State  with  the  utmost  consideration,  and 

262  History  of  Sanquhar. 

as  such  powers  were  regarded  as  private  rights  vested  in  certain 
families,  and  secured  to  them  by  the  treaty  of  Union,  com- 
pensation was  given  for  their  surrender.  Among  those  who 
sent  in  their  claims  we  find  that  the  Duke  of  Queensberry, 
who  had  purchased  the  barony  of  Sanquhar,  and  with  it  the 
sheriffship  of  Dumfries,  from  Lord  Crichton,  claimed  as  Sheriff 
£6000,  his  whole  claim  amounting  to  £14,500 ;  but  it  was  cut 
down  to  £6621.  This  salutary  Act  came  into  force  in  the 
year  1 748.  It  was,  as  might  have  been  anticipated,  violently 
opposed,  but  the  miserable  end  of  the  recent  rebellion  had 
taught  the  lesson  that  the  days  were  past  w'hen  the  authority 
of  Parliament  and  of  the  Executive  Government  could  be 
successfully  defied.  The  measure  was  sullenly  acquiesced  in, 
but  it  proved  the  most  beneficial  for  Scotland  of  any  that  had 
been  passed  since  the  Union.  By  it  "all  heritable  jurisdictions 
of  justiciary,  and  all  regalities  and  heritable  baillieries,  and 
all  heritable  constabularies,  other  than  the  office  of  high  con- 
stable of  Scotland,  and  all  stewartries,  being  parts  only  of 
shires  or  counties,  and  all  sheriffships  and  deputy  sheriffships 
of  districts,  belonging  unto,  or  possessed  or  claimed  by  any 
subject  or  subjects,  and  all  jurisdictions,  powers,  authorities,  and 
privileges  thereunto,  appurtenant  or  annexed,  or  dependant 
thereupon,  are  abrogated,  taken  away,totallis  dissolved  and  ex- 
tinguished." These  jurisdictions,  powers,  and  authorities  were 
henceforth  vested  in  the  Court  of  Session,  Court  of  Justiciary 
at  Edinburgh,  the  Judges  in  the  several  Circuits,  and  the 
Courts  of  the  Sheriffs  and  Stewards  of  the  shires  or  counties, 
and  others  of  the  King's  Courts  respectively.  The  heritable 
sherifFships  were  resumed  and  annexed  to  the  Crown.  All 
judges  were  by  this  Act  required  to  qualify  by  taking  the 
oaths  to  Government  (the  same  provision  applied,  it  will  be 
observed,  to  Town  Councils),  with  all  procurators,  writers, 
agents,  or  solicitors  practising  in  any  of  the  Scottish  Courts. 
By  this  important  measure  the  administration  of  justice,  the 
purity  and  efficiency  of  which  lies  at  the  very  root  of  a 
nation's  well-being,  ceased  to  be  the  subject  of  private 

History  of  Sanquliar.  263 

property,  and  was  transferred  to  a  body  of  officials,  appointed 
by  and  responsible  to  the  Crown  alone,  trained  to  the  pro- 
fession of  the  law,  and  free  from  local  or  personal 
influences.  For  the  first  time  could  it  be  said  that  the 
inhabitants  of  Scotland  were  free  men.  It  was  some  time 
before  all  classes  of  the  people  could  accommodate  them- 
selves to  the  new  order  of  things,  but  they  gradually  came  to 
realise  that  old  things  had  passed  away,  and  that  now  they 
were  free  to  practise  those  arts  of  peace  and  industry  which 
were  in  harmony  with  a  slowly  but  steadily  advancing 

The  Union,  which  ultimately  was  destined  to  operate  to 
the  great  advantage  of  the  poorer  country,  had  for  a  time 
rather  the  opposite  effect.  The  more  active  and  enter- 
prising of  her  sons  were  drawn  across  the  border  by  the 
wider  field  for  the  display  of  their  talents,  where,  engaging 
in  business  of  various  kinds,  they,  by  the  exercise  of  the 
qualities  and  virtues  which  distinguish  the  Scottish  people, 
speedily  amassed  considerable  fortunes.  Appreciating  the 
advantages  of  a  more  advanced  civilisation,  and  having, 
during  their  residence  in  the  richer  country,  naturally 
acquired  different  social  habits,  they  preferred  to  remain 
where  the  state  of  society  was  more  congenial  to  their 
improved  tastes.  Others,  encouraged  by  their  successes, 
followed,  and  thus  Scotland  was,  for  a  period,  deprived  of  the 
very  men  who  could  have  most  effectually  worked  out  her 
salvation  from  a  condition  of  poverty  and  indolence.  With  a 
true  patriotism,  the  great  Forbes  and  others  strove  hard  to 
develop  the  industries  of  their  native  land,  and  were 
wonderfully  successful.  The  linen  trade,  and  also  the  fish- 
eries, were  those  upon  the  extension  of  which  they  princi- 
pally expended  their  energies.  The  records  of  the  Convention 
of  Royal  Burghs  bear  ample  testimony  to  the  success  with 
which  their  patriotic  efforts  were  crowned.  In  1727,  there 
were  stamped  84,000  yards  of  linen  ;  while  in  1783,  the 
quantity  had  increased  to  no  less  than  9,000,000  yards.  In 

264  History  of  Sanquhar. 

the  chapter  on  the  weaving  industry,  it  is  noted  that  it  has 
been  found  impossible  to  ascertain  with  any  degree  of  certainty 
when  it  began  in  Sauquhar,  but  it  is  extremely  probable 
that  it  contributed  its  quota,  however  small  that  might  be, 
to  this  national  manufacture  of  linen,  for,  when  it  is  considered 
that  in  the  early  years  of  this  century  there  were  already 
over  100  weavers  in  the  town,  it  is  almost  certain  that 
weaving  had  been  going  on  for  a  considerable  time  prior  to 
that  period. 

The  latter  half  of  the  eighteenth  century  was  therefore  the 
time  when,  the  disturbing  effects  of  the  rising  of  1745  having 
subsided,  the  country  settled  down  to  the  enjoyment  of  an 
era  of  steadily  increasing  prosperity.  Prosperity  was  so  far, 
however,  only  a  comparative  term,  and  we  find  that  for  long 
after  this  date  the  country  was  subject  to  ever-recurring 
periods  of  want  bordering  sometimes  on  famine.  The  diet 
of  the  people  in  country  parts  was  of  a  plain  though  whole- 
some kind,  made  up  entirely  of  the  native  products  of  the 
soil.  For  breakfast  there  was  oatmeal  porridge,  which  was 
served  with  milk  or  as  often  whey.  Dinner  was  usually 
made  up  of  mutton  broth,  followed  by  the  boiled  mutton 
with  potatoes  ;  and  for  supper,  potatoes  (often  beaten  and 
called  "  champers  ")  with  milk,  or  porridge  and  milk  again. 
This  was  the  daily  fare  of  the  inhabitants  in  small  towns  as 
well,  except  that  the  dinner  had  not  the  advantage  of  the  variety 
enjoyed  in  country  houses,  but  all  three  meals  consisted  of  oat- 
meal, potatoes,  and  milk.  One  can  see  at  a  glance,  therefore, 
how  completely  their  condition  was  dependent  on  the  home 
harvest,  at  a  time  when  the  baleful  Corn  Laws  were  in  full 
operation.  These  laws  at  first  were  directed  against  the  expor- 
tation of  corn,  for  in  those  days  more  corn  was,  as  a  rule, 
grown  than  sufficed  for  the  wants  of  the  people,  but  gradually, 
by  the  increase  of  the  population,  the  exporting  of  corn  alto- 
gether ceased,  and  the  restrictions  were  applied  to  the 
importation  of  bread  stuffs.  The  agricultural  interest  was 
sufficiently  powerful  in  the  country,  and  the  representative 

History  of  Sanquhar.  265 

rights  of  the  people  in  the  government  were  sufficiently 
ignored  to  permit  of  the  maintenance  of  laws  of  the  kind, 
the  design  of  which,  of  course,  was  to  protect  the  interests  of 
landowners,  but  the  certain  effect  of  which  was  to  artificially 
raise  the  price  of  the  necessaries  of  life.  The  price  at  which 
importation  was  allowed  was  altered  from  time  to  time,  and 
ultimately  the  prohibitory  laws  operated  by  a  sliding  scale, 
so  adjusted  that  the  price  of  bread-stuffs  was  effectually 
maintained  at  a  very  high  figure.  The  home  price  of  course 
varied  with  the  character  of  the  harvest,  and  whenever  a  bad 
harvest,  or  worse  still,  a  succession  of  bad  harvests, 
was  experienced  the  inevitable  result  ensued.  Grain 
rose  to  famine  prices,  entailing  upon  the  working  classes 
suffering  of  no  ordinary  kind.  It  is  observable  that,  in  this 
country,  the  weather  frequently  comes  in  cycles — that  bad 
seasons  seldom  come  singly.  At  such  periods  the  population 
were,  particularly  in  country  districts,  brought  almost  to  the 
verge  of  starvation,  and  diseases,  attributable  to  the  want  of 
sufficient  nourishment,  were  common  among  the  poorer 
classes.  A  public  writer,  speaking  of  a  period  of  this  kind 
says — "  Meal  became  so  scarce  that  it  was  at  two  shillings  a 
peck,  and  many  could  not  get  it.  It  was  not  then  with 
many  '  Where  will  we  get  siller  ?'  but  '  Where  will  we  get 
meal  for  siller  ?'  I  have  seen,  when  wheat  was  sold  in 
markets,  women  wringing  their  hands,  crying — '  How  shall 
we  go  home  and  see  our  children  die  of  hunger  ?  They 
have  got  no  meat  these  two  days,  and  we  have  nothing  to 
give  them  ?' "  The  harrowing  details  which  he  gives  of  the 
sufferings  of  the  poor  people  remind  us  of  the  horrors  of  a 
prolonged  siege,  and  all  that  it  appears  the  authorities  could 
think  of  for  the  mitigation  of  the  wide-spread  distress  was 
to  fix  maximum  prices,  and  ordain  a  solemn  fast,  on  account 
of  the  "  lamentable  stroke  of  dearth  and  scarcity."  It  might 
have  occurred  to  them  that  the  people  had  had  enough  of 


History  of  Sanquhar. 

During  the  period  which  we  have  now  reached,  the  end  of 
the  18th  century,  the  poet  Burns  often  passed  through 
Sanquhar  prior  to  his  removal  to  Ellisland,  and  visited  the 
town  after  that  time  in  pursuit  of  his  calling.  He  was  on 
intimate  terms  of  friendship  with  Mr  (afterwards  Provost) 
Edward  Whigham,  who  kept  the  head  inn,  where  Burns 
frequently  stayed  overnight,  and  had  such  boon  companions 
as  Mr  Johnston  of  Clackleith,  and  latterly  of  Blackaddie, 
who  also  became  provost  in  1791,  and  Mr  Rigg,  of  Crawick 
Forge.  The  poet  amused  himself  in  copying  out  his  manu- 
script productions,  which  copies  he  distributed  among  his 
friends,  Provost  Whigham  coming  in  for  a  large  share.  He 
was  presented  with  a  copy  of  the  Kilmarnock  edition  of 
Burns'  Poems,  which  is  now  in  the  possession  of  Mr  J.  R. 
Wilson,  of  the  Royal  Bank,  here.  This  volume  contains  on 
a  fly-leaf  a  copy  of  verses  which  the  poet  scratched  on  a 
window-pane  of  the  inn  one  morning  after  having  break- 
fasted with  Mr  Whigham  and  his  family  :  — 

"  Envy,  if  thy  jaundiced  eye, 
Through  this  window  chance  to  spy, 
To  thy  sorrow  thou  shalt  find 
All  that's  generous,  all  that's  kind, 
Friendship,  virtue,  every  grace 
Dwelling  in  this  happy  place." 

The  pane  of  glass  itself  is  in  the  possession  of  the  repre- 
sentatives of  the  late  Mr  David  Barker.  Mr  Barker  had 
also  a  Memorandum  in  Burns'  handwriting  in  the  following 
terms  : — 

Memorandum  for  Provost  E —  W —  to  get  from  John  French  his  sets  of 
the  following  Scots  airs  — 

1.  The  auld  yowe  jumpt  o'er  the  tether. 

2.  Nine  nights  awa,  welcome  hame,  my  dearie. 

3.  A'  the  nights  o'  the  year,  the  chapman  drinks  nae  water. 

Mr  Whigham  will  either  of  himself  or  through  the  medium  of  that  WORTHY 
VETERAN  of  original  wit  and  Social  Iniquity — CLACKLEITH — procure  these, 
and  it  will  be  extremely  obliging  to  R.  B. 

Now,  Mr  Whigham  was  not  provost  till  the  year  1793, 
and  therefore  this  request  was  made  to  him  by  the  poet 

History  of  Sauquhar.  2b'7 

while  he  was  engaged  in  the  recovery  of  old  Scotch  airs  and 
songs  for  Mr  Thomson's  Collection,  within  a  year  or  two  of 
his  death.  Photographic  copies  were  made  of  this  memor- 
andum, and  the  foregoing  is  copied  from  one  of  these. 

The  following  is  a  copy  of  another  letter  of  Burns, 
addressed,  it  is  believed,  to  Mr  John  M'Murdo,  Chamberlain 
to  the  Duke  of  Queensberry  from  1780  to  1797,  who  fre- 
quently entertained  the  poet  at  Drumlanrig  : — 

SANQUHAR,  26th  Nov.,  17S8. 

SIR, — I  write  you  this  and  the  enclosed,  literally  en  passant,  for  I  am 
just  baiting  on  my  way  to  Ayrshire.  I  have  philosophy  or  pride  enough 
to  support  me  with  unwounded  indifference  against  the  neglect  of  my  more 
dull  superiors,  the  merely  rank  and  file  of  Noblesse  and  C entry,  nay,  even 
to  keep  my  vanity  quite  sober  under  the  loadings  of  their  compliments  ; 
but  from  those  who  are  equally  distinguished  by  their  rank  and  character 
— those  who  bear  the  true  elegant  impressions  of  the  Great  Creator  on  the 
richest  materials — their  little  notices  and  attentions  are  to  me  amongst  the 
first  of  earthly  enjoyments.  The  honour  you  did  my  fugitive  pieces  in 
requesting  copies  of  them  is  so  highly  flattering  to  my  feelings  and  Poetic 
ambition,  that  I  could  not  resist  even  this  half  opportunity  of  scrawling 
off  for  you  the  enclosed  as  a  small  but  honest  testimony  how  truly  and 
gratefully  I  have  the  honour  to  be,  Sir,  your  deeply  obliged  humble 
servant,  ROBERT  BCRNS. 

Elsewhere,  in  connection  with  Municipal,  Agricultural,  and 
Industrial  matters,  the  attempt  is  made  to  convey  some  idea 
of  the  -condition  of  the  town  prior  to  the  beginning  of  the 
present  century,  but  the  materials  are  very  meagre.  As  is 
stated  in  the  preface,  there  is  this  serious  disadvantage  that 
the  records  of  a  place,  which  are  frequently  of  the  utmost 
value  as  sources  of  information  in  compiling  its  local  history, 
are  singularly  deficient  so  far  as  Sanquhar  is  concerned. 
We  are  thus  prevented,  in  a  narration  of  the  facts  relating 
its  general  history,  from  going  further  back  than  the  date 
above  mentioned. 

Taking,  therefore,  the  beginning  of  this  century  as  our 
starting-point,  the  attention  is  first  arrested  by  the  cloud 

268  History  of  Sanquhar. 

that  then  overhung  the  town,  as  it  did  the  whole  country. 
Following  the  period  of  great  prosperity  which  marked  the 
last  decade  of  the  eighteenth  century,  the  depression  which 
characterised  the  opening  years  of  this  was  felt  with  all  the 
greater  keenness.  The  country  having  recovered  from  the 
political  disturbances  caused  by  the  expiring  efforts  of  the 
Stuarts  to  regain  the  throne,  which  culminated  in  the  rebel- 
lions of  1715  and  1745,  the  benefits  of  the  interchange  of 
commerce  between  Scotland  and  England,  following  upon 
the  Union,  and  the  great  stimulus  given  to  trade  by  the 
efforts  of  patriotic  Scotsmen  and  the  introduction  of  cotton, 
had  combined  to  work  a  perfect  revolution  in  the  social  con- 
dition of  the  country.  Employment  was  now  abundant,  and 
wages  had  advanced,  and  the  pulse  of  a  commercial  activity 
and  enterprise,  which  the  country  had  never  previously 
experienced,  beat  full  and  strong,  when  the  black  shadow  of 
war  fell  on  the  Continent  and  destroyed  the  whole  fair  pros- 
pect. That  arch-disturber  of  the  peace  of  the  nations, 
Napoleon,  had  begun  his  career  of  ambitious  and  self-seeking 
policy,  which  was  destined  to  entail  untold  sufferings  and 
sacrifices  until  his  final  overthrow  at  Waterloo.  Apart 
from,  and  in  addition  to,  the  enormous  losses  in  the  field  of 
both  blood  and  treasure,  trade  was  paralysed,  and  though 
the  iron  hoof  of  war  was  never  imprinted  on  British  soil,  our 
country  in  other  respects  had  to  bear  the  brunt  of  the  final 
struggle.  The  pride  which,  in  spite  of  the  poverty  and 
misery  they  had  to  endure,  the  people  took  in  the  successes 
of  the  British  arms  in  the  Peninsula,  bore  testimony  to  their 
heroic  spirit.  It  was  the  common  topic  at  every  fireside,  and 
the  children,  catching  the  spirit  of  their  sires,  went  about 
the  fields  with  sticks  slashing  the  heads  off  the  thistles,  taking 
the  weeds  for  Frenchmen. 

It  was  during  this  period  that,  as  has  been  noted,  the  Town 
Council  had  once  and  again  to  come  to  the  relief  of  the 
unemployed  weavers,  who  were  in  a  state  of  starvation,  and 
had  to  take  measures  to  secure  a  supply  of  oatmeal,  which 

History  of  Sanquhar.  269 

the  poor  people  could  not  procure  even  for  money.  As 
illustrating  the  straits  to  which  they  were  reduced,  we 
know  of  the  case  of  the  father  of  a  large  family  in  the  locality 
who,  procuring  a  reading  of  a  newspaper — for  there  were  very 
few  in  circulation  at  that  time — observed  a  notice  of  the 
expected  arrival  of  a  vessel  in  the  Port  of  Leith  with  a  cargo 
of  pease.  Borrowing  a  pony,  he  set  out  with  the  object  of 
securing  a  quantity  of  the  pease,  and  arrived  in  time. 
Having  bought  at  the  ship's  side  as  many  as  the  pony  could 
carry  in  a  sack  hung  over  pannier- wise,  he  returned  home 
rejoicing.  So  long  as  the  pease  lasted,  the  principal  food  of 
the  family  was  pea-bannocks. 

The  large  number  of  French  prisoners  who  fell  into  the 
hands  of  the  British  were  distributed  over  the  country.  The 
party  sent  to  Sanquhar  was  composed  of  certain  officers  with 
their  servants.  They  were  stationed  here  for  several  years 
on  their  parole  d'honneur,  but  were  not  allowed  to  pass 
beyond  a  circuit  of  three  miles  from  the  town.  They  were 
of  all  nations — French,  Italian,  Poles,  &c. — for  soldiers  of 
fortune  of  almost  all  the  continental  nations  flocked  to 
Napoleon's  standard.  One  was  named  Dufaure,  another 
Wysilaski,  another  Delizia,  and  so  on.  They  were  handsome 
young  fellows,  had  all  the  manners  of  gentlemen,  and,  living 
a  life  of  enforced  idleness,  they  became  great  favourites  with 
the  ladies,  with  whose  hearts  they  played  sad  havoc,  and,  we 
regret  to  have  to  record,  in  some  instances  with  their  virtue. 
The  banks  of  Crawick  would  appear  to  have  been  a  favourite 
resort  of  theirs.  On  a  rock  in  the  Holm  Walks  one  Luogo 
di  Delizia  has  inscribed  his  name,  with  the  date  "  1 812"  under- 
neath. Lower  down,  the  date  "1814  "  is  cut  in  similar  style  ; 
while  to  the  right  are  two  concentric  circular  lines  containing 
the  French  word  "  Souvenir,"  plainly,  though  rudely,  carved 
between.  Their  customary  bathing  place  was  a  pool  behind 
the  Holm  house,  which  bears  to  this  day  the  name  of  the 
"  Sodger's  Pool."  They  were  drafted  off  in  batches  as 
each  exchange  of  prisoners'  took  place,  and  it  is  said  that 

270  History  of  SanquJtar. 

some  of  them  fell  at  Waterloo.  They  had  all  been  removed 
before  that  time,  the  last  leaving  early  in  1815,  with 
the  exception,  perhaps,  of  one,  Angus  M'Gregor  by  name, 
whose  father  had  had  to  take  refuge  in  France  for  the 
part  he  had  taken  in  the  Rebellion  of  '45.  Angus,  it 
appears,  had  learnt  hand-loom  weaving,  and  practised  the 
trade  so  long  as  he  was  in  Sanquhav. 

The  year  1826  was  the  "  dry  year,"  elsewhere  referred  to. 
It  was  followed  by  a  snow-storm  in  the  spring  of  1827,  still 
spoken  of  as  the  "  big  snaw."  It  began  on  Saturday,  the 
3rd  March,  with  showers  of  small  flakes,  and  increased 
as  the  day  advanced,  till,  as  night  set  in,  the  fall  became 
thick  and  fast,  and  was  accompanied  by  a  fierce  gale  of  wind. 
The  result  was  that  drifting  occurred,  blocking  up  the  roads, 
which  had  to  be  "cast"  for  the  passage  of  the  mail  coach, 
and  the  wall  of  snow  on  either  side  was  at  points  so  high 
as  to  completely  hide  the  coach  as  it  passed  along.  The 
inmates  of  many  of  the  houses — single  storey  thatched  ones — 
had  their  communication  cut  off,  and  on  the  Sabbath  morn- 
ing, when  they  opened  their  doors,  they  were  confronted 
with  an  impenetrable  wall  of  snow.  A  supply  of  water  was 
secured  by  melting  masses  of  the  snow  in  a  pot,  and  by  this 
means  their  breakfast  of  porridge  was  prepared.  They  had 
to  remain  imprisoned  until  they  were  dug  out  by  their  more 
fortunate  neighbours.  Several  shepherds,  who  were  out 
looking  after  their  flocks,  were  overtaken  by  the  storm,  and, 
getting  confused  in  the  blinding  drift,  perished.  One  of 
these  was  at  Ulzieside,  and  another  at  Todholes.  In  the 
former  case,  the  poor  man  had  made  a  continuous  circuit  of 
a  little  knoll,  as  was  shewn  by  his  footprints  in  the  snow. 
Not  knowing  where  he  was,  he  had  tramped  his  dreary 
round,  longing  for  the  daylight  which,  poor  soul,  his  eyes 
were  never  again  to  look  upon.  With  step  ever  growing 
feebler,  he  struggled  along  till,  at  length  stumbling,  he  fell, 
and,  incapable  of  further  effort,  resigned  himself  to  his 
fate.  Additional  pathos  was  lent  to  the  incident  by  the  fact 

History  of  Sanqiiliar.  271 

that  this  knoll  was  situated  only  a  very  short  distance  above 
his  own  house,  so  that  he  may  be  said  to  have  perished  on 
his  own  threshold,  and  within  call  of  those  whom  he  loved. 

Stage  coaches  had  commenced  to  run  between  England 
and  Scotland,  and  afterwards  between  certain  towns  in  Scot- 
land, so  early  as  the  middle  of  the  seventeenth  century.  The 
journey  to  London  occupied  many  days,  the  whole  lawful  days 
of  a  week  being  consumed  in  the  journey  from  York  to  that 
city.  The  delay  was  no  doubt  largely  attributable  to  the  poor 
character  of  the  roads  ;  and  it  is  noted  in  1685  as  a  great  feat 
that  the  Duke  of  Queensberry  and  other  noblemen  had  travel- 
led from  London  to  Edinburgh  in  eight  days.  There  was  no 
regular  service  of  stage  coaches,  however,  on  the  Nithsdale 
road  till  100  years  later.  In  the  early  years  of  this  century 
there  was  a  daily  service.  One  coach,  owned  by  Major 
Logan,  of  Knockenstob,  and  others,  was  called  "  The  Inde- 
pendent," and  put  up  at  the  Queensberry  Inn,  while  another 
was  named  "  The  Burns  ;"  and  at  a  later  period  a  third,  called 
"  The  Times,"  was  added.  A  keen  rivalry  sprang  up  between 
them,  and  racing  was  of  daily  occurrence,  affording  a 
good  deal  of  amusement  to  the  townsfolk.  "  The  Burns " 
was  withdrawn,  but  "The  Independent"  continued  to  run 
till  the  opening  of  the  railway.  The  arrival  of  the  coach 
was  the  principal  event  of  the  day.  The  toot  of  the  guard's 
horn,  the  crack  of  the  driver's  whip,  and  the  gaily  painted 
coach  as  it  dashed  up  the  street,  drawn  by  its  team  of  four 
steaming  horses,  roused  the  sleepy  town.  The  good  burghers 
peeped  out  of  doors,  or  hurried  to  the  inn  to  learn  the  news, 
while  the  youngsters  crowded  around,  their  highest  ambition 
being  to  walk  one  of  the  horses  round  the  stable  yard  till  he 
had  cooled,  and  then  to  ride  him  bareback  to  the  River 
Nith  for  a  bath,  in  which  occupation  many  a  one  had  his 
first  lesson  in  the  equestrian  art.  The  opening  of  the  railway 
gave  the  fatal  blow  to  the  coach  system,  and  thus  disappeared 
one  of  the  most  picturesque  features  of  the  social  life  of  our 
small  country  towns.  The  mail  was  carried  on  horseback, 

272  History  of  Sa  nqu har. 

and  latterly  by  mail  gigs.  They  were  privately  owned,  and, 
besides  the  Government  subsidy,  a  good  deal  was  earned  by 
the  carriage  of  small  parcels,  and  sometimes  of  a  stray 
passenger  or  two.  The  direct  road  to  Glasgow  on  foot  by 
Muirkirk  and  Strathaven  was  shorter  than  that  taken  by  the 
coach  via  Kilmarnock,  the  former  being  about  48  and  the 
latter  about  58  miles.  William  Cunningham,  a  watchmaker 
in  Sanquhar,  laid  a  bet  that  he  would  cover  the  distance 
between  the  two  places  in  less  time  than  the  coach. 
Cunningham  was  a  powerfully  built  man,  and  walked  with  a 
long  swinging  step.  They  started,  the  coach  and  he,  together 
from  the  Tron  steeple  in  Glasgow,  and  when  the  coach  swept 
round  the  turn  of  the  road  at  the  Council  House,  the  driver, 
to  his  astonishment,  espied  Cunningham  standing  at  the 
inn's  close  awaiting  its  arrival  to  claim  payment  of  the  bet. 
He  had  done  the  journey  in  eight  hours,  keeping  up,  that  is, 
a  rate  of  six  miles  an  hour,  and  won  with  twenty  minutes  to 

During  the  resurrectionist  scare,  about  sixty  years  ago,  when 
parties  went  about  the  country  exhuming  bodies  from  the 
churchyards  for  disposal  as  subjects  for  the  dissecting-rooms 
in  the  colleges,  a  watch  was  set  for  some  time,  there  being  a 
prevalent  belief  that  raids  had  been  made,  or  were  contem- 
plated, in  this  quarter.  That  these  apprehensions  Avere  not 
unfounded,  is  proved  by  the  story  that  John  Thomson,  a  son 
of  Dr  Thomson  of  Sanquhar,  at  the  time  a  medical  student 
in  Edinburgh,  one  morning  identified  a  subject  that  lay  on 
the  dissecting-table  as  the  body  of  an  old  blind  fiddler  who 
used  to  play  at  the  "penny  reels"  held  in  the  Council  House 
on  fair  nights. 

The  passing  of  the  Reform  Bill  of  1832  was  the  next  great 
event,  than  which,  perhaps,  nothing  in  the  previous  history 
of  the  town  had  evoked  such  a  deep  and  widespread  interest. 
The  fortunes  of  the  Bill  were  watched  with  eager  expectancy, 
and  the  prolonged  resistance  which  was  made  to  it  by  the 
Tory  party  caused  the  very  name  of  Tory  to  stink  in  the 

History  of  Sanquhar.  273 

nostrils  of  the  Radicals  of  Sanquhar.  The  ultimate  triumph 
of  the  measure  was  hailed  with  the  keenest  delight,  and  a 
Demonstration  was  organised.  A  procession,  embracing  the 
mass  of  the  population,  was  made  to  Kirkconnel,  a  distance 
of  four  miles.  It  was  accompanied  by  the  usual  bands  of 
music  and  a  liberal  display  of  banners.  On  their  return 
home,  the  processionists  assembled  on  the  square,  where 
congratulatory  addresses  were  delivered  amid  the  greatest 
enthusiasm.  As  a  sample  of  the  oratory  on  the  occasion,  we 
give  the  peroration  of  a  speech  by  a  Mr  Turner,  the  parochial 
schoolmaster  of  Kirkconnel — "  It  would  take  an  ocean  of 
ink,"  he  cried,  "  acres  of  paper,  and  a  quill  plucked  from  the 
wing  of  an  archangel  to  write  a  record  of  the  political  crimes 
of  the  Tories."  An  inflammatory  harangue  of  this  sort  could 
not  be  tolerated  by  his  superiors,  and  it  cost  the  author 
his  situation.  The  Council  house  was  illuminated,  as 
was  also  every  house  in  the  town,  by  the  simple  form  of 
placing  candles  in  every  window  pane  ;  even  the  few  Tories 
judged  it  wise  to  conform  in  order  to  conciliate  the  populace 
and  save  their  window-glass,  while  one  or  two,  who  had  made 
themselves  particularly  obnoxious,  slipped  quietly  away  from 
the  town  for  the  day.  The  evening  was  spent  in  the  usual 
round  of  merrymakings. 

Down  to  this  time  and  later,  the  animal  spirits  of  the 
young  fellows,  which,  having  but  little  opportunity  for  exercise 
in  the  quiet  every  day  life  of  the  town,  found  vent  at  times  in 
practical  joking  and  other  forms  of  horse  play.  There  was 
no  policeman  to  keep  them  in  check,  and  a  considerable 
degree  of  freedom,  or  rather  licence,  was  enjoyed.  As  a 
rule,  the  element  of  malice  was  absent,  and  there  was 
frequently  a  sufficient  spice  of  humour  in  their  tricks  to 
disarm  resentment,  and  nothing  worse  than  a  good  laugh 
was  excited.  As  examples  of  this  sort  of  thing,  the  follow- 
ing may  be  taken  : — The  Lochan  was  then  a  row  of  low 
thatch-roofed  houses  built  against  the  rising  ground  behind, 
whence  it  was  an  easy  matter  to  walk  on  to  them.  Ned 


274  History  of  Sanquhar. 

G ,  a  shoemaker,  who  worked  in  the  neighbourhood, 

would  rise  from  his  work,  and,  picking  up  sods  which 
were  always  lying  plentifully  about,  would  walk  along  the 
roofs  and  clap  a  sod  on  each  "  lum."  Returning,  he  would 
light  his  pipe,  and  resume  his  work.  In  a  few  minutes  a 
great  "row"  suddenly  sprang  up  in  the  Lochan.  The 
women-folks,  driven  to  the  street  by  the  smoke,  which  filled 
their  houses,  made  a  perfect  Babel  of  tongues,  when  Ned 
would  walk  down,  and  inquire,  with  an  air  of  the  greatest 
innocence,  "  Wi,'  what's  ado,"  and  on  learning  the  cause 
would  earn  the  good  name  of  a  "  rale  obleeging  chiel "  by 
going  up  and  removing  the  sods  which  he  himself  had  placed 

William  Thomson,  shoemaker,  had,  among  his  apprentices, 
one  or  two  very  stirring  blades.  Thomson,  looking  out  of 
his  back  window  one  day,  said  in  their  hearing  that  he 
wished  he  had  had  some  gooseberry  bushes  in  his  garden. 
Imagine  his  astonishment  next  morning,  on  looking  out,  to 
find  the  garden  well  supplied  with  bushes,  loaded,  too,  with 
fine  ripe  berries.  The  'prentices  had  interpreted  his  wishes 
in  a  way  he  had  not  anticipated.  The  rascals,  aided  by 
certain  accomplices,  had  gone  overnight  to  a  large  well- 
stocked  garden  at  Knowehead  and  transported  the  bushes 

A  fish  hawker,  who  had  failed  to  dispose  of  his  stock-in- 
trade,  unyoked  his  cart  on  the  space  of  ground  in  front  of 
the  Town  Hall,  and  left  it  there.  It  had  leaked  out 
that  the  fish  were  stinking,  and,  to  pay  him  off,  a  band  of 
young  fellows  drew  the  cart  through  the  town,  scattered  the 
herrings  on  the  street,  and  finished  up  by  taking  the  cart  to 
the  kirkyard,  where  they  contrived  to  suspend  it  from  a 
branch  of  one  of  the  trees. 

"  Running  "  people  was  a  form  of  practical  joking  peculiar, 
so  far  as  we  are  aware,  to  Sanquhar.  It  was  largely-indulged 
in  by  the  young  fellows,  the  victims  being  persons  in  a 
more  or  less  intoxicated  condition,  or  of  somewhat 

History  of  Sanquhar.  275 

advanced  years.  It  afforded  amusement  doubtless  to  the 
perpetrators,  but  it  was  no  fun  to  the  victim,  who,  at  the  end 
of  his  forced  and  rapid  journey,  was  left  in  an  exhausted  arid 
breathless  condition.  The  method  of  procedure  was  as 
follows  : — Having  posted  themselves  at  the  door  of  a  public- 
house,  the  youths  awaited  the  exit  of  the  individual 
whom  they  had  marked  out  for  their  attentions.  So  soon  as 
he  emerged  with  unsteady  gait,  and  mayhap  humming  the 
refrain  of  a  song,  he  was  seized  firmly  by  each  arm,  at  the 
wrist  and  the  shoulder,  and,  if  he  were  a  man  of  powerful 
build,  also  from  behind  by  the  collar  of  the  coat,  and  before 
be  could  utter  a  word  of  protest,  he  was  carried  along  at  a 
swift  pace,  which  never  slackened  till  he  was  landed  at  his 
own  door.  Not  a  word  had  been  spoken  by  his  assailants 
during  the  rapid  and  unceremonious  convoy,  nor  by  the 
victim,  who  found  that  he  had  sufficient  to  do  to  keep  his  feet, 
and  had  no  breath  to  spare  ;  and  when  he  recovered  himself 
he  found  it  was  useless  to  give  vent  to  his  feelings  of  indigna- 
tion, for  the  rascals  had  swiftly  disappeared. 

An  amusing  instance  of  this  practice  of  "  running  "  took 
place  one  evening  with  an  old  man,  Tarnmie  Graham.  He 
was  in  the  act  of  shaving,  one  side  of  his  face  being  shaved, 
and  the  other  covered  with  a  fine  lather  of  soap,  his  friend 
Baker  Todd  sitting  by  the  fire,  and  "cracking"  all  the  while, 
when  a  knock  was  heard  on  the  door.  Tammie  laid  down 
the  razor,  and  answered  the  call.  No  sooner  was  the  door 
opened  than  a  brief  scuffle  was  heard,  followed  by  the  sound 
of  retreating  footsteps.  After  a  very  short  interval  Tammie 
was  deposited  on  his  own  door  step.  On  his  entering  the 
house  panting  and  excited,  Todd  inquired — "  What's  ado, 
Tammas?  Where  hae  ye  been  ava?"  "Been,"  answered  he; 
"Dreadfu'  be't"  (a  favourite  exclamation  of  his),  "I  hae  been 
three  times  roon  the  p-p-p-pump  well  sin'  I  g-g-gaed  oot." 
The  mischievous  twinkle  in  Todd's  eye  gave  the  suspicion  that 
he  was  an  accomplice  in  the  trick,  which  received  confirmation 
from  the  fact  that  during  Tamrnie's  absence  he  had  drawn 

276  ffistory  of  Sanquhar. 

the  edge  of  the  razor  across  the  fender.  When  the  old  man 
resumed  the  shaving  process,  and  found  that  the  razor  was 
useless,  he  looked  significantly  at  Todd,  who,  however,  having 
an  excellent  command  of  his  countenance,  looked  as  innocent 
as  a  child. 

A  minute  of  the  Town  Council  of  the  year  1836  relates 
that  "  Bailie  Edgar  put  in  a  claim  for  damages  to  his  coat, 
received  while  engaged  as  a  magistrate  of  the  town  in 
endeavouring  to  quell  a  disturbance  caused  by  one  Benjamin 
Robison,  by  whom  his  coat  was  torn  to  pieces."  This  minute 
introduces  to  us  a  notable  character  of  the  place.  Benjamin, 
or  Ben  as  he  was  briefly  named,  was  of  the  class  known  as 
loafers.  He  followed  no  regular  employment,  but  was  ready 
for  any  chance  job,  for  which  he  was  sometimes  rewarded 
with  drink.  In  his  sober  senses  a  quiet  enough  man,  Ben, 
when  the  drink  was  in,  became  a  perfect  fury.  When  in  that 
condition  he  must  get  up  a  "  row."  He  usually  began  with 
some  antics  which  collected  a  crowd  of  children,  whom  he 
greatly  amused,  but  the  scene  oftentimes  developed  into 
something  serious  whenever  any  bigger  person  interfered. 
When  assailed,  Ben  would  watch  for  his  opportunity  to  seize 
some  article  of  his  assailant's  clothing.  He  had  a  grip  of 
iron  ;  when  once  he  got  a  hold,  it  was  impossible  to  unloose  it, 
and  whatever  he  caught  had  to  come.  On  one  occasion,  a 
prominent  citizen  of  the  town  was  arrayed  in  all  the  glory  of 
one  of  the  ruffled  shirts  which  had  just  come  into  fashion  ; 
he  unfortunately  got  into  an  altercation  with  Ben,  whose 
eyes  were  attracted  by  this  grand  shirt.  Springing  forward 
like  a  wild  cat,  Ben  seized  and  wrenched  away  the  whole  shirt 
front,  ruffles  and  all.  He,  as  we  see,  had  no  reverence  for 
authority  ;  not  even  the  august  dignity  of  a  magistrate 
could  cowe  him,  and  the  majesty  of  an  officer  of  the 
law  had  no  terrors  for  him.  The  town  officer,  Sergeant 
Thomson,  was  endeavouring  to  remove  him  to  jail  for  some 
street  disturbance.  Ben  threw  himself  on  his  back 
on  the  ground  (this  was  his  favourite  move  when  he 

History  of  Sanquhar.  277 

was  in  danger  of  being  overpowered)  and,  watching 
his  chance  as  the  officer  stooped  over  him,  caught  the 
tails  of  his  coat  and  literally  tore  it  off  his  back.  These 
disturbances,  of  which  he  was  the  central  figure,  were  called 
".Ben's  weddings."  Notwithstanding  the  damage  which  an 
individual  sometimes  suffered  at  his  hands,  his  "weddings" 
afforded  many  an  hour's  fun,  and  he  was  a  general  favourite. 
Poor  Ben  came  to  an  untimely  end.  Stumbling  one  day  at 
the  top  of  a  steep  stair  in  a  public-house  in  the  town,  he 
was  precipitated  to  the  bottom.  When  picked  up  he  was 
found  to  be  insensible,  and  was  carried  home,  where  he 
lingered  for  two  or  three  days,  but  never  regained  conscious- 
ness. Thus  passed  out  of  sight  one  who  had  been  an  out- 
standing figure  in  the  social  life  of  the  town  for  many  a 
day.  His  death  occurred  about  the  year  1841  or  1842. 

The  mention  of  the  name  of  this  "  character  "  leads  us  to 
remark  that  in  the  olden  time  there  were  in  most  little 
towns  a  number  of  individuals,  not  of  the  type  of  Ben 
certainly,  but  in  whom  individuality  of  character,  of  a  great 
variety  of  type,  was  strongly  marked.  These  peculiar 
traits  were,  for  the  most  part,  an  abnormal  development  of 
one  or  other  of  our  national  characteristics,  dogged  deter- 
mination and  perseverance,  or  the  dry  humour  which,  in  spite 
of  the  ignorant  sneer  that  it  takes  a  surgical  operation  to  get 
a  joke  into  a  Scotchman's  head,  is  a  distinctive  feature  of  the 
Scottish  character.  The  author  of  the  above  foolish  saying 
could  not  have  mixed  in  the  society  of  the  rural  parts  of 
Scotland,  without  discovering  that  the  faculty  of  humour, 
and  even  the  higher  form  of  wit,  was  common  enough. 

One  of  this  class,  Willie  M — ,  who  went  on  the  spree  peri- 
odically for  a  week  or  a  fortnight,  called  at  a  friend's  house 
on  his  way  home  one  day,  in  a  very  fuddled  condition,  and 
there  unexpectedly  met  an  old  schoolfellow,  a  sea 
captain,  who  had  been  round  the  world,  and  whom 
he  had  not  seen  for  many  years.  The  captain  was 
the  first  to  recognise  him,  and,  jumping  up,  greeted 

278  History  of  Sanquhar. 

his  old  friend  in  hearty  sailor  fashion.  "  How  are 
you,  Willie  ?  It's  a  long  time  since  I  saw  you.  How 
are  you?"  Willie,  somewhat  dazed,  did  not  answer  for  a 
moment,  but,  pulling  himself  together,  at  length  replied — 
"  Captain,  homeward  bound  with  a  general  cargo." 

On  another  occasion  Willie,  in  the  same  condition,  called 
on  his  friend.  He  had  just  learnt  of  the  sudden  death  of  a 
near  relation.  His  friend  spoke  to  him  in  a  sympathetic 
tone,  when  Willie  remarked — "  There's  a  good  deal  of  the 
Apostle  Paul  about  me  this  morning.  I  have  sorrow  upon 

A  good  story  is  told  of  another  character,  a  mason,  who 
was  working  in  the  country.  He  and  another  of  the  squad 
set  out  one  morning  to  their  work.  There  were  two  public- 
houses  on  the  way.  They  called  at  the  first  house  for  a  dram, 
which  dram  was  but  the  prelude  to  a  "big  drink."  They 
got  no  further  that  day.  Next  morning  they  set  out  again, 
and  passed  the  first  house  with  a  firm  determination  not  to 
repeat  the  folly  of  yesterday.  By  the  time  they  had 
reached  the  next  "public,"  however,  the  resolution  of 
our  friend  failed.  He  again  proposed  a  dram,  for 
he  was  very  dry.  "Na,  na,"  answered  his  friend;  "I'm 
no  gaun  in  the  day."  Persuasion  was  useless,  arid  so 
he  said — "Weel,  weel,  gang  slow,  and  I'll  be  wi'  ye  in  a 
meenit."  His  companion  did  so,  looking  over  his  shoulder 
now  and  again  to  see  if  he  was  coming,  till  a  turn  of  the 
road  hid  the  house  from  sight,  and  he  then  marched  on.  Work 
began,  and  went  on  for  hours,  when  about  noon  a  strange 
and  accountable  sound  of  music  was  heard,  faint  at  first,  but 
ever  sounding  louder  and  nearer  ;  when  at  length  there  was 
presented  a  scene  which  sent  the  whole  squad  into  fits  of 
laughter.  Our  friend  had,  after  refreshing  himself  very 
freely,  resumed  his  journey  to  his  work,  and  foregathered 
on  the  way  with  an  Italian  organ  grinder.  How  he  made 
himself  understood  is  not  known,  but  he  had  hired  the 
musician  to  play  him  to  his  work.  On  they  came,  the 

History  of  Sanquhar.  279 

organ  man  in  front,  grinding  his  music  with  might  and  main, 
while  he  strutted  behind  with  a  proud  air,  and  making 
what  he  considered  an  impressive  entry,  shouted  to  the 
terrified  Italian — "Play  up,  ye  furrin'  deevil." 

An  example  of  a  different  kind  was  that  of  Geordie  L . 

French  clay  pipes  had  come  into  use,  and  one  or  two  had 
found  their  way  to  Sanquhar.  They  could  not  be  purchased, 
however,  nearer  than  Glasgow.  So  great  was  Geordie's 
ambition  to  possess  one  of  these  grand  pipes  that  he  actually 
set  out  on  foot  all  the  way  to  Glasgow  for  the  sole  purpose 
of  buying  a  French  clay  pipe.  Having  secured  this  coveted 
object,  he  carried  it  carefully  in  his  hand  all  the  way  home. 
When  he  had  reached  the  precincts  of  the  town  he  stopped, 
filled  and  lighted  it,  and  then  marched  down  the  middle 
of  the  street — a  proud  man.  He  stayed  up  a  little  close  off 
the  main  street,  the  opening  of  which  was  very  narrow,  and 
in  turning  the  corner  rather  sharp,  the  head  of  the  pipe 
caught  the  house,  and  in  a  moment  Geordie's  heart,  which 
had  swelled  with  pride  over  his  new  possession,  sank  within 
him  as  he  saw  it  fall,  shivered  to  pieces  at  his  feet. 

These  are  only  a  few  samples  of  hundreds  of  such  stories, 
which  could  be  told  of  Sanquhar  characters,  but  space  forbids. 
For  intellectual  gifts  of  a  somewhat  higher  order,  we  should 
mention  two  farmers  of  the  neighbourhood — the  late  Mr 
Williamson  of  Barr  and  Mr  M'Call  of  Ulzieside — Auld  Barr 
and  Ulzieside  as  they  were  familiarly  called.  Their  witty 
sayings,  particularly  those  of  the  former,  are  often  quoted. 
But  were  quick  in  repartee,  and  no  one  cared  to  encounter 
them.  Being  next  neighbours  and  fast  friends,  they  sharp- 
ened each  other's  wits  in  their  daily  intercourse.  The  truth 
is,  one  would  have  had  to  search  far  and  wide  before  coming 
across  two  such  characters  in  any  countryside. 

Speaking  of  farmers,  this  district  contained  specimens  of 
the  hard,  close-fisted  class,  who  contrived  to  gather  together 
wonderful  fortunes,  but  the  truth  is,  money-making  was 
their  life's  study.  As  an  example  of  how  it  was  done,  let  us 

280  History  of  Sanquhar. 

adduce  the  case  of  one   who  had  been  visiting  overnight  a 

O  O 

neighbour  some  miles  distant.  He  was  hospitably  enter- 
tained, and  driven  to  Sanquhar,  half-way  home,  by  his  friend. 
On  alighting  he,  addressed  him,  saying — "  Weel,  Mr  K.,  ye 
hae  been  very  kind  ;  if  ye'll  come  in,  I'll  treat  ye."  The 
gentleman  consented,  and  when  the  bell  had  been  rung  the 
old  man  said — "  What'll  ye  tak'  ? "  "  Oh,"  answered  the 
other;  "it's  early,  I'll  just  take  a  bottle  of  lemonade." 
"  Juist  what  I  was  gauri  to  tak'  mysel',"  he  added,  "  and  I 
daursay  ae  bottle  may  dae  us  baith."  Turning  to  the  waiting 
maid,  he  gave  his  order — "  Bring  a  bottle  of  lemonade  and 
twae  tumblers,  my  woman." 

This  same  old  farmer  borrowed  a  cart  from  a  neigh- 
bour on  the  opposite  side  of  the  river.  There  was  a  toll-bar 
at  the  bridge,  and  when  he  had  done  with  the  borrowed  cart, 
he  was  concerned  how  he  would  get  it  returned  without 
incurring  the  twopence  of  toll.  At  last  he  hit  upon  a  device. 
He  was  a  big  strong  man,  and  getting  between  the  trams, 
with  the  rigwoodie  chain  over  his  shoulder,  he  dragged  the 
cart  across  the  bridge,  and  into  the  side  of  the  road  near  to  the 
farm  whence  he  had  borrowed  it,  and  sent  up  word  to  its 
owner  where  he  would  find  it.  This  man  died  worth  several 
thousand  pounds. 

Resuming  our  narrative  we  come  down  to  1848,  when  the 
country  suffered  a  dreadful  visitation  of  cholera.  It  gradually 
spread  northwards,  and  at  length  reached  Dumfries,  which, 
being  in  a  particularly  insanitary  state,  suffered  to  a  fearful 
extent.  Panic  seized  the  people  in  all  quarters,  and  travellers 
by  road  were  viewed  with  the  greatest  suspicion,  and  contact 
with  them  shunned.  Measures  of  precaution  against  the 
introduction  of  the  fell  disease  were  taken.  They  were  of 
the  simplest  kind,  the  laws  of  sanitary  science  being  then 
practically  unknown.  The  Town  Council  gave  orders  for  the 
cleaning  out  of  middens,  and  a  general  white-washing 
took  place.  Every  passenger  who  was  known,  or 
suspected,  to  have  been  in  the  ill-fated  county  town  was 

History  of  Sanqufiar.  281 

arrested  on  his  arrival,  and  fumigated.  For  this  purpose  a 
square  box,  high  enough  to  reach  to  the  neck,  was  made. 
Into  this  he  was  thrust,  and  a  cloth  covering  the  top  of  the 
box  was  tied  tightly  round  his  neck.  When  that  had  been 
done,  a  mixture  of  sulphur  and  quicklime  was  put  into  an 
iron  cup,  and  was  then  lighted,  and  laid  in  the  bottom  of 
the  box.  An  amusing  scene  occurred  with  an  Irish  tramp, 
who  was  subjected  to  this  process.  Failing  to  understand 
the  object  of  the  authorities  he  offered  a  stout  resistance,  and 
it  was  with  the  greatest  difficulty  that  he  was  got  into  the 
box.  When  the  naming  sulphur  was  thrust  in  at  his  feet, 
his  features  were  transfixed  with  horror.  Evidently  he 
thought  he  was  to  be  burnt  alive.  On  being  liberated  he 
bolted  out,  and  when  he  reached  the  street  set  up  a  wild 
hurroo,  and  shouted — "  By  my  sowl,  and  it  never  fired  on 
me."  The  town  happily  escaped  the  cholera,  but  for  weeks 
the  inhabitants  lived  in  a  state  of  the  greatest  apprehension. 

Chambers,  in  his  "  Domestic  Annals,"  mentions  a  pheno- 
menon that  occurred  in  the  end  of  the  year  1838,  when  the 
Nith  and  other  rivers  in  the  south  of  Scotland  were  so 
depleted  of  water  that  all  the  mills  were  stopped.  This 
strange  occurrence  was  attributed  to  various  causes ;  some 
thought  it  was  due  to  an  earthquake,  others  to  a  wind 
driving  back  the  waters.  The  matter  was  inquired  into  by 
a  distinguished  scientist,  who  gave  the  opinion  that  it  was 
due  to  the  severe  frost,  which  had  completely  frozen  up  the 
upper  streams,  while  the  lower  reaches  had  been  emptied 
into  the  sea.  This  was  no  doubt  the  true  reason,  for  it  was 
during  the  winter  of  1838-39  that  the  longest  and  greatest 
frost  of  the  century  was  experienced.  The  frost  lasted  for 
twelve  or  thirteen  weeks,  the  Nith  being  crossable  anywhere 
for  miles. 

We  do  not  require  to  refer  here  to  the  Chartist  agitation, 
having  touched  on  that  subject  in  the  notes  on  the  Sanquhar 

In  the  year  1845  there  is  the  first  mention  of  a  coming 


282  History  of  Sanquhar. 

event  which  was  destined  to  have  a  great  effect  upon  the 
trade  and  social  condition  of  the  whole  district — the  making 
of  the  railway  through  Nithsdale.  The  construction  of  it 
was  let  in  sections  to  contractors,  and  the  navvies  employed 
were  almost  wholly  Irish,  the  bulk  being  Roman  Catholics. 
Between  them  and  the  natives  there  was  no  good  feeling 
from  the  outset.  The  people  of  Sanquhar,  whose  minds  were 
deeply  imbued  with  the  spirit  of  exclusiveness,  inbred  by  the 
privileges  which,  as  burghers,  they  had  enjoyed  for  genera- 
tions, always  looked  askance  at  strangers,  whom  they  termed, 
and  even  yet  are  inclined  to  stigmatise,  as  "incomers."  This 
feeling  of  hostility  towards  the  navvies  was  intensified  by 
the  fact  that  they  were  of  an  alien  faith.  In  the  rural 
parts  of  the  south  of  Scotland  the  bulk  of  the  population 
was  Protestant  ;  in  many  parishes,  and  Sanquhar  was  one, 
not  a  single  Roman  Catholic  was  to  be  found.  The  attitude 
and  conduct  of  the  navvies,  so  far  from  conciliating,  only 
served  to  exasperate  the  people  of  the  town.  They  were 
ignorant,  savage,  and  treacherous.  Attacks  were  continually 
being  made,  under  cloud  of  night,  on  individual  inhabitants 
by  bands  of  two  or  three  or  more  navvies,  for  they  always 
liked  to  have  the  advantage  of  numbers.  These  attacks 
were  made  without  the  slightest  warning,  and  upon  people 
with  whom  they  had  no  cause  of  quarrel.  Springing  out 
from  the  shadow  of  a  corner,  they^  would  belabour  and  kick 
their  victim  unmercifully,  and  leave  him  bruised  and  bleed- 
ing on  the  ground.  Sometimes  they  were  watched  and 
interrupted,  but,  whenever  they  became  anything  like  equally 
matched  in  numbers,  they  immediately  fled.  Many  of  the 
weavers  were  stout  young  fellows,  and  some  of  them  carried, 
down  the  inside  of  their  trouser-leg  or  elsewhere  about  them, 
a  good  stout  stick,  which  was  quickly  produced  if  occasion 
demanded.  It  was  plain  that  the  town's-people  and  the 
navvies  would  have  it  out  some  day,  and  that  day  came  when 
the  steeplechases  were  held  on  the  Muir.  These  steeplechases 
were  organised  by  the  contractors,  who  sought  thereby  to 

History  of  Sanquhar.  283 

gratify  the  humour  of  their  workmen  and  their  own  humour 
as  well.  Work  on  the  railway  was  completely  suspended  for 
the  day,  and  an  immense  concourse  of  spectators  congregated 
on  the  ground  to  witness  what  was  an  entire  novelty  in  this 
quarter.  Drink  was  going  plentifully,  and  the  navvies 
assumed  a  very  aggressive  attitude.  The  inevitable  collision 
occurred  in  the  evening  between  a  body  of  them  and  a  band 
of  weavers  at  the  Council  House.  The  latter  felt  that  the 
time  had  come  for  settling  who  should  be  masters,  and  had 
made  due  preparations  accordingly.  They  were  all  armed 
with  cudgels,  and  when  the  moment  of  action  arrived  the 
navvies  found  themselves  confronted  by  a  close  phalanx  of 
determined  opponents,  who  laid  about  them  with  a  will. 
Beaten  at  their  own  game  the  navvies,  finding  a  convenient 
magazine  of  broken  road  metal,  took  to  stone-throwing. 
A  section  of  the  weavers,  by  a  dexterous  flank  march,  cut  off 
their  line  of  retreat.  The  navvies  took  alarm,  broke  and  fled 
along  the  road  towards  Kirkconnel,  along  which  they  were 
chased  out  of  the  parish.  The  only  serious  injury  sustained, 
however,  was  by  a  navvy  who  had  his  leg  fractured,  but  many 
broken  heads  and  bruises  kept  the  Irishmen  in  mind  of  the 
lesson  they  had  been  taught.  From  that  time  they  gave  no 
further  trouble. 

In  the  year  1839,  Crawick  Mill  Carpet  Company  introduced 
gas  for  lighting  their  works  and  the  village,  and  the  Town 
Council  resolved  to  consult  the  engineer  as  to  its  introduc- 
tion into  the  town.  The  result  was  that  a  Company 
was  formed  with  this  object.  The  Council  subscribed  for 
£200,  which  was  subsequently  increased  by  £15  when  the 
main  pipe  was  extended  to  the  railway  station,  at  the  opening 
of  the  railway.  The  Gas  Company  was  not  a  prosperous 
concern  for  many  years,  owing  to  the  works  being  ill-con- 
structed at  first.  The  street  pipes  were  laid  too  shallow,  and 
an  enormous  loss  was  caused  thereby.  No  dividend  having 
been  declared  for  several  years,  the  Company  being  in 
debt  to  a  considerable  amount,  fresh  capital  was  raised  ; 

284  History  of  Sanquhar. 

the  works  were  improved,  and  closer  attention  to  the  Com- 
pany's business  was  given  by  a  new  body  of  directors.  The 
profits  have  been  largely  devoted  to  still  further  improve- 
ments, including  a  double  main  on  the  streets ;  dividends 
have  been  declared  on  the  preference  and  sometimes  on  the 
ordinary  stock,  and  the  price  of  gas  was  recently  reduced 
from  8s  4d  to  6s  Sd  per  thousand  feet. 

A  reading-room  was  established  in  the  year  1848  in  one 
of  the  rooms  of  the  Town  Hall,  and  was  the  scene  of  many 
an  animated  debate  on  political  and  social  subjects.  It  was 
well  supplied  with  newspapers,  and  was  for  many  years  a 
flourishing  institution,  but  the  abolition  of  the  paper  duty, 
and  the  consequent  reduction  in  the  price  of  newspapers  to 
a  penny,  together  with  the  great  extension  of  cheap  literature, 
took  away  its  attractions,  most  of  the  readers  preferring  to 
have  their  papers  in  their  own  homes. 

A  great  improvement  on  the  street  was  effected  in  1852 
by  the  erection  of  a  terrace  on  the  north  side  at  Corseknowe. 
The  ground  rises  above  the  level  of  the  street,  which,  as  we 
have  elsewhere  said,  originally  ran  over  the  knowe,  but  was 
subsequently  cut  through  it.  A  retaining  wall,  surmounted 
by  an  iron  railing,  was  put  up,  and  it  received  the  name  of 
Dalkeith  Terrace,  in  honour  of  the  Earl  of  Dalkeith,  whose 
coming  of  age  in  the  same  year  the  townspeople  had  just 
celebrated  in  a  very  hearty  manner.  The  cost  of  the  terrace 
was  about  £60. 

The  reader  will  have  observed  frequent  reference  to  "  The 
Pump  Well."  The  water  supply  of  the  town  was  then  derived 
from  a  number  of  wells  distributed  over  the  town,  but  this 
well,  which  was  situated  at  the  Market  Cross,  was  in  an 
emphatic  sense  the  pump  well.  It  was  beautifully  built  with 
ashlar,  and  was  covered  by  a  stone  erection.  The  spout  by 
which  the  water  was  discharged  faced  down  the  street  ;  the 
handle  of  the  pump  was  a  long  bar  of  iron  with  a  ball  at  the 
end.  It  was  not  driven  vertically,  but  horizontally,  like  the 
pendulum  of  a  clock.  Few  there  were  who  could  swing  this 

History  of  Sanquhar.  285 

ponderous  handle  except  with  both  their  hands,  and  to  do  so 
with  but  one  hand  was  regarded  as  a  proof  of  great  strength 
of  arm.  A  stone  seat  was  set  along  the  side  of  the  pump 
facing  the  street.  The  widening  of  the  street  in  recent  times 
having  left  the  pump  near  the  middle  of  the  roadway,  an 
obstruction  to  the  street  traffic,  it  was  shifted  back  to  the 
side  of  the  pavement  in  the  year  1836,  and  it  was  ultimately 
taken  down  and  removed  altogether  about  the  year  1881. 

The  source  of  the  present  water  supply,  introduced  in 
the  year  1868,  is  Lochburn.  A  limited  liability  company 
was  incorporated  21st  April,  1868,  with  a  capital,  including 
preference  shares,  of  about  £2000.  A  reservoir  was  con- 
structed at  the  gathering  ground  on  Clenries  farm,  at  a 
distance  of  three  miles,  and  a  distributing  tank  and  filters 
on  an  elevation  in  the  neighbourhood  of  the  town.  The 
quality  of  the  water  is  excellent,  being  very  soft,  and  there- 
fore suitable  for  general  household  as  well  as  dietetic  purposes. 

The  Volunteer  movement  in  1859  was  adopted  with  great 
enthusiasm  in  Sanquhar  and  the  country  parts  surrounding. 
A  strong  company  was  promptly  formed,  arid  commenced 
drilling  in  the  "  big  shop "  at  Crawick  Mill — an  empty 
weaving  shop  formerly  belonging  to  the  Carpet  Company 
It  was  composed  of  all  classes — farmers,  artisans,  and 
labourers.  They  were  tall,  broad-shouldered  men,  but  in 
truth  this  description  applied  equally  to  the  other  companies 
in  the  County.  Public  attention  was  drawn  in  the  Metro- 
polis to  their  splendid  physique,  as  they  marched  down 
Princes'  Street  on  their  way  to  the  Royal  Review  in  1860, 
and  we  remember  hearing  an  inspecting  officer  declare  that 
he  had  never  seen  the  same  number  of  men  cover  so  much 
ground  as  the  Dumfriesshire  Volunteers  did  when  standing 
in  rank.  The  company  still  continues  strong  and  efficient. 

The  Dumfries  District  of  Burghs  was  represented  in 
Parliament,  from  1847  to  1868,  by  Mr  William  Ewart,  a 
Liverpool  merchant,  who  was  much  respected,  both  by  his 
constituency  and  in  the  House.  Amid  the  ups  and  downs  of 

286  History  of  Sanquhar. 

political  feeling  in  the  other  burghs  of  the  group,  Sanquhar 
always  remained  steadfast  to  Mr  Ewart  and  Liberalism,  and 
on  one  occasion,  when  he  was  opposed  by  the  late  Mr  Hannay, 
the  most  brilliant  of  all  those  who  broke  a  lance  with  him 
during  his  Parliamentary  career,  the  return  from  Sanquhar 
shewed  that  not  a  single  vote  had  been  cast  for  his  opponent. 
Mr  Ewart,  in  1863,  presented  a  handsome  barometer  to  the 
inhabitants  of  Sanquhar,  which  is  inserted  in  the  wall  of 
what  was  then  the  residence  of  Provost  Williamson.  His 
portrait,  gifted  to  the  town  after  his  death  by  his  sister, 
Miss  Ewart,  hangs  in  the  Council  Chamber. 

In  1852  the  Town  Council  resolved  "to  promote  the  cele- 
bration in  a  becoming  manner  of  the  attainment  of  his 
majority  by  the  Earl  of  Dalkeith,  as  a  mark  of  respect  and 
attachment  to  the  noble  house  of  Buccleuch  and  Queens- 
berry."  They  resolved  to  illuminate  the  Town  Hall,  to  ring 
the  Town's  bell,  and  voted  a  sum  of  ten  guineas  for  fire- 
works The  townspeople  entered  heartily  into  the  demon- 
stration, which  was  of  a  most  successful  character. 

A  still  greater  event,  and  one  which  evoked  a  wonderful 
display  of  loyal  feeling,  was  the  visit  of  the  Prince  of  Wales 
to  the  town  in  1871.  His  Royal  Highness  and  the  Princess 
of  Wales  were,  in  the  month  of  October,  on  a  visit  to  the 
Duke  of  Buccleuch  at  Drumlanrig  Castle,  and  shooting 
parties  were  arranged  on  His  Grace's  moors  in  the  upper 
part  of  his  estate.  Having  occasion  to  pass  through 
Sanquhar,  the  Duke  was  just  a  trifle  anxious  as  to  the 
reception  which  the  Prince  might  receive.  The  Sanquhar 
people  were  regarded  by  all  Tories  as  dangerous  Radicals, 
not  given  to  ceremony  in  the  expression  of  their  political 
opinions.  They  availed  themselves,  however,  of  this  visit  of 
the  heir-apparent  to  the  throne  to  shew  to  all  men  that  their 
Radicalism  was  quite  consonant  with  loyalty.  Indications 
that  this  was  so  had  indeed  been  given  by  them  on  previous 
occasions,  as  in  1841,  on  the  birth  of  the  Prince  of  Wales,  in 
1863  on  his  marriage,  and  again,  in  the  early  part  of  this  same 

History  of  Sanquhar.  287 

year  1871,  on  the  marriage  of  the  Princess  Louise  to  the 
Marquis  of  Lome,  when  they  were  not  behind  in  testifying 
their  attachment  to  the  reigning  house  and  the  institutions 
of  the  country,  but  all  these  previous  demonstrations  were 
eclipsed  on  this  occasion  of  the  royal  visit.  The  Town 
Council  presented  a  loyal  and  dutiful  address,  to  which  the 
Prince  graciously  replied.  Three  floral  arches  were  erected 
across  the  main  street,  and  the  plain  architectural  features 
of  the  houses  were  concealed  by  a  profusion  of  flags,  ever- 
greens, and  other  decorations.  On  the  party  passing  through 
in  the  morning,  they  were  greeted  along  the  whole  length  of 
the  street  by  the  population,  who  turned  out  en  masse.  The 
carriage  containing  the  Prince  and  his  ducal  host  proceeded 
at  a  walking  pace,  and  His  Royal  Highness  displayed  an 
affable  manner  which  fairly  captivated  the  Sanquhar  people. 
On  the  return  journey  in  the  evening  still  greater  crowds, 
gathered  from  far  and  near,  awaited  his  arrival,  and  gave 
him  a  right  royal  welcome.  There  was  a  display  of  fire-works, 
the  Council  House  was  illuminated,  as  were  also  the  houses 
down  to  the  meanest  cottage,  where  the  modest  candle  in  the 
window  testified  at  once  to  the  poverty  and  its  loyalty  of 
inmates.  The  notice  of  the  royal  visit  that  was  received  had 
been  short,  arid  preparations  were  hurriedly  made,  but  as  the 
Prince  passed  again  on  the  following  day  the  demonstration 
was  repeated  with  even  greater  enthusiasm.  All  were  agreed 
that  the  like  of  it  had  never  before  been  seen  in  Sanquhar, 
and  his  Royal  Highness,  in  his  reply  to  the  address  of  the 
Town  Council,  expressed  his  grateful  sense  of  "  the  hearty 
reception  he  had  met  with  from  all  classes  of  the  community 
when  he  had  passed  through  Sanquhar."  The  people,  in 
addition  to  the  loyal  feeling  by  which  they  were  inspired, 
were  no  doubt  actuated  also  by  a  regard  to  the  fact  that  the 
Prince  was  the  guest  of  the  Duke  of  Buccleuch,  and  sought 
in  honouring  the  guest  to  likewise  honour  the  host.  A 
further  proof  of  their  kindly  feeling  to  the  house  of  Buccleuch 
was  given  in  1882,  on  the  coming  of  age  of  Lord  Eskdaill, 

288  History  of  Sanquhar. 

the  eldest  grandson  of  the  Duke,  when  a  demonstration  of  a 
very  hearty  kind  was  made  •  while  an  address  of  sympathy 
and  condolence  was  sent  by  the  Town  Council  to  the  Duke 
and  Duchess  on  the  occasion  of  his  sudden  and  pathetic 
death  in  1886.  Lord  Eskdaill  was  a  young  nobleman  of 
great  promise,  and  had  won  golden  opinions  from  all  on  the 
vast  family  estates  with  whom  he  had  come  into  contact. 
The  accident  which  caused  his  death  occurred  far  from 
human  dwelling  or  human  aid,  save  such  as  his  Highland 
ghillie  could  render  him.  The  pathetic  story  of  his  last 
hours,  as  he  lay  on  the  heather,  bleeding  slowly  to  death, 
and  the  gentleness  of  soul  which  he  displayed  as,  with  almost 
his  last  breath,  he  whispered  his  thanks  to  the  servant  for 
the  water  which  he  brought  him,  sent  a  thrill  through  the 
whole  country,  and  evoked  a  universal  feeling  of  sympathy 
with  his  parents  in  the  loss,  under  such  trying  circumstances, 
of  one  who  was  the  light  of  their  home,  and  with  whom  were 
bound  up  so  many  fond  anticipations. 

Last,  but  not  least,  of  these  periodic  celebrations  was  that 
of  the  Jubilee  of  Her  Majesty  the  Queen  in  1887.  The 
occasion  was  observed  throughout  the  whole  country  on  a 
stupendous  scale,  but  we  believe  that  in  no  town  of  its  size, 
certainly  not  in  this  part  of  the  kingdom,  were  more  elaborate 
preparations  made.  The  great  mass  of  the  population,  joined 
by  large  crowds  from  Kirkconnel  and  Wanlockhead,  marched 
in  procession,  to  Kemp's  Castle,  where  a  platform  had  been 
erected,  whence,  after  the  proceedings  had  been  opened  by 
prayer,  appropriate  addresses  were  delivered  to  the  vast 
throng.  The  Volunteers  fired  &feu-de-joie,  and  ringing  cheers 
were  given  for  Her  Majesty.  Sports  were  provided  for  the 
young  people,  and  refreshments  for  all.  A  free  concert  was 
given  in  the  evening  in  the  Public  Hall,  and  a  half  crown  was 
presented  to  every  poor  person  in  the  two  parishes.  A  bon- 
fire on  Matthew's  Folly  at  a  later  hour,  where  an  immense 
crowd  assembled,  gave  a  fitting  termination  to  the  day's  pro- 
ceedings, into  which  every  one  had  thrown  himself  heart  and 
soul,  and  which  passed  off  successfully  in  every  way. 

History  of  Sanqifhar.  289 

This  chapter  may  he  brought  to  a  close  with  a  rapid 
survey  of  the  changes  effected  in  country  districts  by  the 
railway.  The  conditions  of  life  and  the  daily  habits  and 
customs  of  the  people  in  country  districts  throughout  Scotland 
underwent  no  great  change  during  the  generation  that  pre- 
ceded the  introduction  of  railways,  about  the  middle  of  the 
present  century.  Each  small  district  was  completely  inbound. 
What  lay  within  the  limits  of  the  horizon  was  all  the  world  to 
them,  so  far  as  their  daily  life  was  concerned,  and  a  certain 
air  of  mystery  or  romance  surrounded  all  outside  this  narrow 
circle.  The  natives  were,  as  a  whole,  content  to  walk  in  the 
footsteps  of  their  fathers,  following  the  same  occupations, 
generation  after  generation,  the  result  being  that,  according 
to  a  well  understood  law  of  nature,  particular  families  acquired 
an  hereditary  skill  in  particular  branches  of  work.  At  the 
same  time,  there  were  bold  and  adventurous  spirits,  whose 
ambition  scorned  the  quiet,  uneventful  life  of  their  native 
vales,  and  longed  to  explore  the  great  world  beyond.  Oft- 
times  they,  like  the  patriarch,  "went  out,  not  knowing 
whither  they  went ;"  and,  though  without  definite  aim  or 
purpose,  or  the  inspiration  of  the  promise  of  a  great  future, 
they  were  guided,  as  truly  as  he  was,  by  the  hand  of 
Providence.  At  all  events,  the  prosperity  which  marked  their 
after-career  was  in  many  instances  truly  wonderful,  but  was 
only  the  direct  and  natural  fruit  of  the  indomitable  qualities 
of  the  hardy  race  from  which  they  were  sprung.  They  proved 
themselves  the  pioneers  of  civilisation  in  many  a  remote 
corner  of  the  globe,  laying  the  foundations  of  thriving 
colonies,  which  have  since  become  a  source  of  pride  to  the 
British  Empire,  and  have  extended  the  influence  of  the 
Anglo-Saxon  race  upon  the  destinies  of  the  whole  human 
family ;  and  how  often  has  it  happened  that  in  the  course  of 
time  his  native  town  has  found  itself  unexpectedly  and 
richly  endowed  by  the  munificence  of  a  son,  the  memory  of 
whose  way-going  had  almost  faded  from  the  recollection  of 
his  boyish  associates  ?  But,  not  to  speak  of  emigration  beyond 


290  History  of  Sanquhar. 

seas,  a  journey  in  that  age  from  one  end  of  the  island  to  the 
other  was  an  enterprise  fraught  with  considerable  risk,  and 
only  to  be  undertaken  on  important  occasions,and  aftermature 
deliberation.  A  journey  to  London  was  not  unattended  with 
danger  to  life  or  limb.  Road  accidents  were  not  uncommon, 
and  over  and  above  these  had  to  be  reckoned  the  chances 
of  falling  a  prey  to  the  highwayman,  the  tales  of  whose 
daring  escapades,  so  often  heard  at  his  own  fireside,  kept  the 
traveller's  mind  in  a  state  of  uneasiness  and  apprehension. 
So  serious,  indeed,  were  the  risks,  that  the  prudent  family 
man,  who  was  about  to  undertake  such  a  journey,  regarded 
it  as  his  first  duty  to  make  his  will.  When  the  day  of  his 
departure  arrived,  his  family  circle  was  thrown  into  a  state 
of  agitation  and  concern,  and  his  fellow-townsmen  crowded 
around  to  see  him  off  and  wish  him  God-speed.  On  his  safe 
return,  he  was  congratulated  on  his  good  fortune,  and  thence- 
forward, in  the  minds  of  his  friends  and  neighbours,  he  was 
regarded  as  a  person  of  no  small  importance.  Long  journeys 
by  coach  were  confined  to  men  of  substance ;  the  movements 
of  the  common  people  had  to  be  made  on  foot,  the  toilsome- 
ness  of  the  way  being  sometimes  relieved  by  a  friendly  "  lift  '* 
on  the  top  of  a  carrier's  cart.  The  occasions  on  which  any 
great  number  of  the  people  travelled  together  were  few. 
The  occurrence  of  a  curling  match  with  a  neighbouring 
parish  was  so  great  and  so  unusual  an  event  that  the  pre- 
parations for  an  early  start  threw  the  curlers,  and,  indeed, 
the  whole  population,  into  a  wonderful  state  of  excitement, 
which  was  once  tersely  described  by  a  wag,  who  said  that  in 
Crawick  Mill  "  they  were  rinnin'  wi'  teapots  and  razors  the 
hale  nicht."  Attending  a  neighbouring  sacrament,  or  a  fair, 
if  there  was  a  market  town  within  easy  reach,  led  to  an 
exodus  for  the  day  of  a  large  portion  of  the  population,  but 
with  these  rare  exceptions  their  lives  consisted  of  a  plain, 
monotonous  round  of  common  duties. 

And  yet,  it  must  not  be  supposed  theirs  was  an  unhappy 
lot.     It  may  truly  be  said,  speaking  of  this  district  in  par- 

History  of  Sanquhar.  291 

ticular,  that  the  condition  of  the  population,  though  a  humble, 
was  a  reasonably  happy  and  contented  one.  In  both  town  and 
country,  employment  was,  on  the  whole,  steady  and  plentiful. 
In  the  town,  weaving  was  the  principal  industry,  and,  in  the 
country  around,  the  population  was  rooted  to  the  soil,  families 
of  farmers  and  cottars  remaining  in  the  same  place  for  genera- 
tions. Though  the  wages  of  agricultural  labourers  were  small, 
they  were  supplemented  in  various  ways.  The  notion  that  the 
interests  of  capital  and  labour  were  antagonistic  was  never  once 
entertained  ;  they  lived  together,  masters  and  servants,  with 
no  great  difference  in  their  condition  outwardly,  and  on  terms 
of  cordial  friendship.  The  children  of  the  ploughmen  were 
constantly  running  about  the  farm-house  and  falling  heir  to 
the  fragments  of  a  meal,  the  odds  and  ends  that  fell  to  them 
from  the  kitchen  table  coming  in  no  way  amiss  to  sturdy 
boys  with  good  healthy  appetites.  It  was  a  common  arrange- 
ment that,  in  addition  to  the  wage  in  money,  which  was 
small,  the  cottar  received  a  plentiful  supply,  free,  of  skim 
milk  from  the  dairy,  and  was  allowed  to  plant  a  small  patch 
of  potatoes.  The  cast-off  clothes  from  the  farm  household, 
or  sometimes  even  a  cut  off  the  web  when  it  came  from  the 
mill,  fell  to  the  ploughman  and  his  family.  His  wife  helped 
with  the  milking,  and  every  one  who  could  make  a  strap, 
bind  a  sheaf,  or  assist  in  any  way,  turned  out  to  the  "  hairst- 
rig."  The  system  of  payment  "  in  kind  "  obtained  also  in 
the  engagement  of  shepherds,  many  of  whom  had  what  was 
called  a  "  pack  " — a  certain  number  of  sheep  which  pastured 
with  the  general  flock,  the  produce  of  which  belonged  to  the 
shepherd  as  part  of  his  remuneration.  In  these  arrange- 
ments one  can  detect  the  germ  of  the  idea  of  "three  acres 
and  a  cow,"  and  of  the  principle  of  common-sharing  of  profits 
between  employers  and  employed,  which  are  being  advocated 
in  these  days  by  certain  reformers.  The  population  in  the 
purely  rural  part  was  in  those  days  very  considerable,  much 
greater  than  it  has  since  become.  There  was  quite  a  number 
of  small  farms,  each  with  its  own  farm-house,  and  servant's 

292  History  of  Sanqukar. 

cothouse  as  well,  while  by  the  road-side  were  groups  here 
and  there  of  cottages — two,  four,  or  half-a-dozen  together — 
where  were  bred  the  stalwart  families,  whose  ranks  formed 
the  unfailing  supply  of  agricultural  labour.  The  ruins  of 
some  still  remain,  but  of  the  bulk  of  them  every  trace  has 
been  obliterated.  This  process  of  depopulation  was  the 
direct  result  of  the  policy,  which  began  about  fifty  years  ago, 
of  constituting  one  large  farm  out  of  two  or  three  small 
contiguous  farms,  and  which  has  been  ultimately  carried  to 
such  an  extent  that,  aggravated  by  other  influences  elsewhere 
noted,  the  supply  of  the  agricultural  labour,  which,  notwith- 
standing the  extensive  use  of  machinery,  is  still  necessary, 
can  hardly  be  maintained,  even  though  the  wages  have  been 
meanwhile  doubled  and  even  trebled. 

The  burghers  of  the  old  town  had  the  placid  stream  of 
their  daily  life  rippled  with  their  periodical  celebrations  of — 
Riding  the  marches,  Town  Council  and  trades  elections,  and 
the  King's  birthday  ;  while  their  burghal  privileges  gave,  to 
them  a  direct  interest  in  politics,  both  imperial  and  local. 
Though  down  to  the  Reform  period  their  municipal  rulers 
were,  being  self-elected,  beyond  popular  control,  the  con- 
stituents whom  they  professed  to  represent  claimed,  and 
exercised  freely,  the  right  to  criticise  their  conduct.  Then 
the  great  fairs — at  Candlemas,  July,  and  November,  besides 
other  minor  fixtures  of  the  same  kind — created  no  little  stir. 
The  first  is  likewise  called  "The  Herds'  Fair,"  that  being  the 
day  on  which  shepherds  are  engaged  for  the  year ;  but  the 
changes  of  service  were  then  much  less  frequent  or  numerous 
than  they  have  in  later  times  become,  since  the  old-estab- 
lished relation  of  common  interest  between  master  and 
servant  has  been  unfortunately  displaced  by  a  feeling,  if  not 
of  hostility  and  mutual  suspicion,  at  least  lacking  the  element 
of  friendship.  In  former  times  it  was  quite  common  for 
shepherds  to  retain  during  a  long  life  the  "  places  "  in  which 
they  had  mayhap  succeeded  their  fathers,  or  where  they  had 
first  been  engaged  as  "  lad-herds."  Their  names  were  just 

History  of  Sanqukar.  293 

as  naturally  associated  in  the  public  mind  with  the  "  herding," 
which  was  their  care,  as  was  that  of  the  owner  of  the  flock. 
They  came  to  know  the  ground  and  the  stock,  and  rare  was 
the  occasion  when  a  flockmaster  parted  with  a  shepherd  to 
hand  over  the  charge  of  his  "  hirsel  "  to  a  stranger. 

On  the  Herd-Fair  day  the  street  was  filled  with  a  crowd 
of  stalwart  men  and  lads,  all  clad  in  home-made  stuff,  the 
black-and-white  plaid  universally  worn  by  them  being 
either  folded  carefully  and  thrown  over  the  shoulder,  or 
wound  round  the  body  so  as  to  cover  it  completely  down 
to  the  knees,  just  as  it  suited  the  taste  of  the  wearer, 
or  as  the  state  of  the  weather  demanded.  Each  carried 
the  most  stylish  stick  of  the  large  stock  which  he 
possessed,  the  making  and  polishing  of  which  beguiled 
the  long  winter  evenings,  and  had  his  inseparable  com- 
panion, the  faithful  collie,  at  his  heels.  It  is  to  be 
regretted  that  the  place  of  the  black-and-white  plaid  is  of 
late  years  being  largely  taken  by  a  sort  of  cheap  water-proof 
coat.  Each  class  may  be  expected  to  know  best  what  suits  the 
necessities  of  their  daily  employment,  but  certainly  there 
could  be  no  more  picturesque  and  appropriate  "  hap  "  for  a 
shepherd  than  the  time-honoured  plaid. 

The  contrast  has  been  noted  between  the  demeanour  of 
the  mixed  crowds  which  throng  round  the  doors  of  the 
public-houses  on  an  ordinary  fair  night  with  that  of  the 
shepherds  on  their  fair  night.  The  opportunities  of  dissipa- 
tion enjoyed  by  the  former  are  more  frequent,  and  the  effect 
of  free  indulgence  in  the  "  barley-bree  "  is  too  often  to  make 
them  quarrelsome  and  foul-tongued,  but,  in  the  case  of  the 
shepherds,  the  manifestations  are  of  a  more  harmless  and 
inoffensive  character.  These  hill-men,  under  the  same  con- 
ditions, would  seem  to  experience  a  great  exhilaration  of 
spirits,  and  the  unwonted  feeling  finds  an  outlet  in  shouting 
and  singing.  The  collies,  to  keep  them  company,  take  to 
barking,  the  result  being  many  a  "  collie-shangie,"  in  which 
much  mutually-defiant  wrath  obtains  utterance,  and  a  good 
deal  of  worrying  takes  place,  but  little  damage  is  done. 

294  History  of  Sanquhar. 

The  July  Fair— the  great  lamb  and  wool  market  of  the 
year  in  the  South  of  Scotland — brought  together,  and  does 
still,  a  large  concourse  of  people,  all  interested  to  learn  the 
prevailing  prices. 

At  the  fair  in  November,  the  principal  articles  traded  in 
were  vegetables — onions  and  carrots  for  winter  use — and 
hence  this  was  familiarly  called  "  The  Onion  Fair."  The 
finest  specimens  of  this  succulent  vegetable  were  strung 
round  a  band  of  straw  about  twelve  or  fifteen  inches  long, 
and  were  sold  at  so  much  per  string,  while  the  smaller  and 
poorer  sorts  were  sold  by  weight. 

At  all  these  fairs  the  sides  of  the  main  street,  from  the 
pump- well  westward,  were  lined  with  booths  ;  on  the  north 
side  these  were  filled  with  the  small-wares  which  were 
required  in  country  houses  ;  the  candy-barrow  and  fruit 
stalls  were  the  centre  of  attraction  for  all  youngsters  who 
had  had  their  "  fairiu',"  and  were  anxious  to  make  it  go  as 
far  as  possible  ;  while  above  the  din  could  be  heard  the 
cheery  and  inviting  call  of  the  proprietor  of  the  shooting- 
stand — "  Fire  away,  boys  !  Nuts  for  your  money,  and  sport 
for  nothing."  Crowded  round  him  under  the  awning  were 
the  boys,  large  .and  small,  of  sporting  proclivities.  On  the 
table  was  heaped  up  a  huge  pile  of  nuts,  and  at  the  back  was 
erected  a  board  painted  with  circles  and  other  devices  in 
strong  colours,  upon  which  was  nailed  a  group  of  brass  rings 
of  various  sizes  ;  it  was  the  ambition  of  the  young  sharp- 
shooter to  plant  within  one  of  these  rings  the  little  dart 
discharged  from  one  or  other  of  the  various  matchlocks  lying 
over  the  heap  of  nuts.  The  range  was  only  about  a  couple 
of  feet,  and  strong  percussion  caps  were  the  only  propelling 
force  used.  The  smaller  the  ring  into  which  the  dart  was 
shot  the  larger  was  the  number  of  nuts  allowed,  but  however 
bad  the  shot  might  prove,  a  few  were  given  in  consolation. 
The  local  cooper  exhibited  a  varied  collection  of  his  manufac- 
tures, from  the  churn  down  to  the  smallest  articles  used  in 
the  dairy  and  the  country  kitchen.  The  south  side  of  the 

History  of  Sanquhar.  295 

street  was  reserved  for  stands  for  the  sale  of  boots,  shoes,  and 
slippers.  The  whole  scene  was  one  of  the  greatest  anima- 
tion, and  afforded  pleasurable  excitement  and  genuine  fun  to 
both  young  and  old.  In  the  olden  time  the  day  was  brought 
to  a  fitting  close  by  the  dancing  of  "  penny  reels  "  in  the 
Council  House. 

The  internal  trade  of  the  country  was  very  limited  in 
extent,  each  district  being  practically  self-sustaining.  The 
habits  and  tastes  of  the  people  were  plain  and  simple,  both 
in  the  matter  of  food  and  dress.  With  regard  to  the  former, 
it  consisted  almost  wholly  of  the  products  of  their  native  soil, 
oatmeal  and  potatoes  being  the  principal  articles  of  diet ; 
while  in  regard  to  dress,  it  likewise,  both  as  to  material  and 
manufacture,  was  a  native  production.  Durability  was  the 
primary,  appearance  only  a  secondary,  consideration.  The 
scarcity  of  money  no  doubt  compelled  this  in  most  cases,  but 
even  where  the  means  of  a  family  would  have  enabled  them 
to  indulge  in  dress  of  a  more  showy  and  expensive  kind,  the 
product  of  foreign  looms,  they  preferred  for  the  most  part  to 
yield  to  the  promptings  of  thrift.  The  ambition  of  the 
housewife  of  this  period  lay  in  another  direction  than  that  of 
personal  adornment — viz.,  in  the  plenishing  of  her  house. 
Her  blanket-chest  was  her  treasure-chest.  The  greatest  day 
of  all  the  year  to  her  was  that  on  which  its  contents  received 
their  annual  airing,  and  she  spread  out  the  long  row  of 
blankets  on  the  hedge-rows  in  the  sight  of  all  her  neighbours 
with  a  decided  feeling  of  pride.  The  number  of  pairs  which 
a  daughter  received  as  part  of  her  marriage  outfit  was  a 
subject  of  anxious  inquiry  among  her  female  friends,  and 
was  a  tolerable  guide  to  estimating  the  "  bienness  "  of  her 
family.  The  stock  with  which  she  started  her  married  life, 
it  was  her  constant  care  to  augment  from  time  to  time,  and 
when  a  division  of  the  goods  and  gear  took  place  after  the 
mother's  death,  there  was  nothing  the  daughters  more 
earnestly  coveted,  and  over  which  they  were  more  apt  to 
quarrel,  than  the  possession  of  the  blankets.  The  store  in  a 

296  History  of  Sanquhar. 

long-established  household  sometimes  numbered  no  less  than 
thirty,  forty,  or  fifty  pairs.  The  worship  of  the  goddess  of 
fashion  had  not  yet  been  set  up  in  country  parts.  House- 
hold comfort,  rather  than  personal  display,  was  the  great  aim 
of  the  matrons  of  that  age. 

What  little  traffic  there  was  between  one  part  of  the 
country  and  another  was  easily  enough  overtaken  by  the 
carriers'  carts,  which  conveyed  heterogeneous  loads  of  mer- 
chandise, composed  largely  of  small  parcels,  which  were  kept 
from  falling  off  by  a  square  wooden  "  heck,"  tied  on  the  top 
of  the  heavier  goods.  It  was  within  the  heck  and  among 
the  parcels  that  the  weary  traveller,  who  was  fortunate  enough 
to  get  a  lift  from  the  good-natured  carrier,  was  seated. 

Not  only  in  respect  of  the  necessaries  of  life  was  it  true 
that  each  locality  provided  for  its  own  needs,  but  the  same 
principle  applied  in  trades  and  manufactures.  The  records 
of  the  burgh  make  reference,  for  example,  to  the  following 
as  having  been  practised  here  :  —  Plough-wright,  turner, 
wool-comber,  tanner,  stocking-framer,  dyster  or  dyer,  book- 
binder, barber,  and  wig-maker.  The  trade  of  plough-wright, 
now  practically  obsolete,  reminds  one  of  the  age  when  agri- 
cultural implements  were  of  rude  and  simple  construction, 
and  were  principally  made  of  wood.  A  turning-lathe  is  still 
to  be  seen  in  country  joiners'  shops  here  and  there,  for,  to 
the  general  joiner  or  carpentry  business,  is  often  added  that 
of  cabinetmaking — the  making  of  the  furniture  which  forms 
the  plenishing  of  a  young  married  couple's  home.  This 
consisted  of  the  kitchen  requisites,  including  a  corner  cup- 
board, made  of  triangular  form,  and  set  up  overhead  in  a 
corner,  containing  the  best  china,  for  the  display  of  which 
the  door  was  usually  left  open  ;  and  further,  a  cupboard  and 
dresser,  as  it  is  called,  which  stood  on  the  floor ;  across  the 
upper  part  rails  of  wood  were  stretched,  behind  which  were 
arrayed  the  housewife's  best  dinner  service,  all  set  up  on  edge, 
with  her  best  spoons  placed  between,  and  additional  attrac- 
tiveness lent  to  the  set-out  by  a  row  of  bowls  ornamented 

History  of  Sanquhar.  297 

in  dazzling  colours,  and  various  smaller  articles  similarly 
emblazoned.  The  branch  of  cabinet-making  is,  however,  a 
mere  adjunct  to  the  joiner's  main  business,  and  no  one  now 
professes  the  regular  trade  of  turner.  In  the  early  part  of 
the  century  there  was  a  tan-pit  at  the  foot  of  the  Calton 
Close  (now  named  Baronscourt),  and  a  bark-mill  stood  on  the 
south  side  of  the  close.  The  reference  to  the  trades  of  wool- 
comber  and  dyer  (or  dyster,  as  it  was  universally  styled), 
points  to  the  woollen  manufactures,  which  are  treated  of  in 
the  chapter  on  "  Industries,"  as  is  also  the  old-established 
manufacture  of  stockings,  gloves,  and  mittens.  The  town 
likewise  boasted  a  bookbinder.  One  Thomas  Brown,  who 
followed  this  calling,  would  appear  to  have  been  a  man  of 
some  literary  pretensions,  for  he  published  in  the  year  1807 
a  "  Gazeteer  of  the  United  Kingdom,"  in  two  vols.,  a  copy  of 
which  is  in  the  possession  of  Mr  Robert  Halliday,  weaver, 
Castle  Street,  who  purchased  it  at  a  roup  many  years  ago. 
The  work  is  wonderfully  complete,  and  does  the  utmost 
credit  to  the  industry  of  one  who,  so  situated,  must  have 
laboured  under  great  difficulties  in  the  compilation  of  such  a 
mass  of  detailed  information. 

The  reader  will  be  surprised  to  learn  that  there  were  in 
the  town  two  tobacco  factories.  James  Otto,  the  father  of 
Provost  Otto,  was  a  tobacco  manufacturer.  He  had  his 
factory  in  the  house,  2  Church  Road,  the  front  of  which  was 
pierced  by  nine  windows,  five,  in  the  upper  and  four  in  the 
ground  flat.  Of  these,  four  have  been  built  up,  and  the  whole 
converted  into  a  dwelling-house.  The  other  factory  was  the 
second  house  south  of  the  police  station,  on  the  same  side  of 
the  street.  It  is  but  natural  to  expect  to  find  a  brewery  in 
a  town,  where,  together  with  the  immediate  neighbourhood, 
there  were  no  less  than  about  thirty  public-houses,  in  days 
before  the  temperance  movement  had  arisen,  and  when  drink- 
ing customs  were  almost  universal.  Such  an  establishment 
was  kept  in  the  building  at  the  corner  of  High  Street  and 
Leven  Road  by  the  firm  of  Brown,  Nichol,  and  Vass,  while 


298  History  of  Sanqultar. 

another,  kept  by  Jonathan  Dawson,  was  situated  in  the 
range  of  buildings  in  Simpson  Koad,  commonly  called  "The 
Tabernacle."  The  daily  wants  of  the  population  were  further 
provided  for  by  bands  of  travelling  tinkers,  who  moved  up 
and  down  the  length  and  breadth  of  the  land,  making  on  the 
spot  and  selling  tin  utensils  of  all  kinds  ;  basket-makers,  who 
found  in  the  woods  and  marshy  flats  the  willow  wands  and 
sticks  they  required  in  their  trade,  and  with  these  wove 
baskets  according  to  the  size  and  style  prescribed  by  the 
housewife,  while  horn  spoons  were  worked  out  of  the  horns 
of  slain  cattle,  laid  past  for  that  purpose,  and  placed  in  the 
hands  of  persons  skilled  in  this  manufacture,  who  moved 
about  from  farm-house  to  farm-house,  remaining  at  each  till 
the  stock  of  horn  had  been  exhausted.  Coming  round 
periodically  like  the  pedlar,  to  whom  reference  is  elsewhere 
made,  these  itinerant  tradesmen  established  relations  of 
friendship  with  their  customers.  They  generally  belonged 
to  the  wandering  tribe  of  gipsies,  but  they  were  quite  civil 
and  orderly  in  their  behaviour.  Their  food  and  lodging  they 
received  free,  and  beyond  that  their  charges  were  not  heavy. 
In  days  when  newspapers  were  scarce  and  dear,  the  news 
of  public  events  travelled  slowly.  A  copy  of  the  London 
Times  of  the  time  of  the  Battle  of  Waterloo  cost  sixpence, 
and  consisted  of  four  pages  of  a  small  sheet,  which,  when 
spread  out,  was  little  bigger  than  an  ordinary  sized  pocket 
handkerchief.  Reports  of  murders  and  minor  crimes, 
such  as  now  help  to  swell  the  sale  of  our  leading 
weeklies,  were  never  heard  of  very  far  from  the  locality  in 
which  these  occurred,  but  when  a  tragedy  of  unusual  horror 
was  committed,  the  intelligence  was  carried  over  the  whole 
country  by  a  class  of  newsmen,  whose  method  of  publication 
was  after  this  manner  : — The  various  scenes  were  depicted 
on  little  pieces  of  canvas  about  two  feet  square  in  pictures  of 
the  rudest  type.  The  first  was,  usually,  a  portrait  of  the 
criminal,  whose  countenance  proved  him  a  villain  -of  the 
deepest  dye  ;  the  next  represented  the  actual  perpetration  of 

History  of  Sanquhar.  290 

the  crime  ;  in  some  instances  the  victim,  a  woman,  was  seen 
seized  by  the  murderer  by  the  hair  of  the  head,  while  from 
the  wound  inflicted  by  a  long,  glittering  knife,  ran  a  stream 
of  blood,  indicated  by  a  big  splash  of  red  paint.  Then 
followed  the  trial  scene,  which  represented  the  judge  perched 
up  on  a  high  bench,  his  head  covered  by  an  enormous  wig, 
but  his  countenance  giving  no  evidence  of  intellectual  vigour 
or  judicial  serenity ;  in  truth,  the  whole — judges,  counsel, 
and  criminal — often  bore  a  striking  resemblance  to  each 
other,  the  artist's  power  of  delineation  being  evidently 
limited  to  but  one  type  of  feature.  Last  of  all  came  the 
execution.  Upon  a  staring  white  ground  a  huge  scaffold, 
black  and  appalling,  was  painted,  and  at  the  end  of  the 
noose  attached  to  the  cross-beam  hung  the  murderer, 
his  body  writhing  and  his  countenance  distorted  in  his  last 
agony.  These  gruesome  pictures  were  mounted  in  the  style 
of  maps,  and  were  attached  by  cords  to  the  top  of  a  poll, 
about  seven  feet  high.  A  bundle  of  little  pamphlets  con- 
taining "  The  Last  Speech  and  Dying  Confession  of ," 

and  a  little  stick  completed  the  showman's  equipment. 
Taking  up  his  position  in  the  most  public  part  of  the  street, 
he  commenced  to  recite  the  particular  incidents  of  the 
tragedy.  He  affected  a  style  of  speech  which  was  a  harsh 
monotone,  and  it  was  quickly  recognised  by  the  inhabitants, 
young  and  old.  He  was  surrounded  by  an  eager  crowd, 
whose  imaginations  it  was  plain  to  see  were  excited  by  the 
harrowing  details  to  which  they  listened.  As  he  proceeded, 
the  exhibitor,  with  the  stick,  drew  the  attention  of  his 
audience  to  the  picture  which  illustrated  the  point  which  he 
had  reached  in  his  narration,  and  the  pictures,  arranged  in 
order,  were  turned  over  the  top  of  the  staff  till  the  complete 
tale  had  been  unfolded.  Copies  of  the  pamphlet  were  then 
offered  for  sale,  and  were  eagerly  bought  up,  and  carried  off 
to  be  read  at  leisure.  The  practice  was  a  most  demoralising 
one,  and  happily  it  has  been  swept  away  by  the  newspaper 
press.  The  very  last  occasion  on  which  it  was  seen  was  on 

300  History  of  Sanquhar. 

the   execution    of   Mary  Timney  at  Dumfries  in  the   year 

In  those  days,  when  holiday-making  was  comparatively 
unknown,  and  the  opportunities  of  relaxation  and  amuse- 
ment were  nothing  to  what  they  have  since  become,  the 
visits  from  time  to  time  of  travelling  showmen  were  a  source 
of  great  delight  to  the  simple-minded  country  people.  There 
were  among  themselves  men  of  splendid  build  and  enormous 
muscular  power — children  of  nature,  whose  finely  propor- 
tioned, well-knit  frames  had  been  developed  by  regular 
simple  habits  of  life  and  daily  exercise  in  manual  labour. 
They  enjoyed  in  a  super-eminent  degree  that  choicest  of 
earthly  blessings — mens  sana  in  corpore  sano — and  this 
gift  had  not  been  corrupted  by  illness  or  dissipation.  When, 
therefore,  the  professional  athlete,  after  the  performance  of 
some  great  feat  of  mere  strength,  strutted  round  the  ring,  as 
was  his  wont,  and  threw  down  his  challenge  to  all  the  world, 
which  in  this  instance  meant  only  the  wondering  crowd  that 
surrounded  the  arena,  it  was  no  uncommon  sight  to  see  a 
stalwart  son  of  the  soil  elbowing  his  way  to  the  front. 
Encouraged  by  the  cheers  of  his  friends,  who  regarded  him 
as  their  champion,  he,  by  the  mere  forthputting  of  the  enor- 
mous power  that  lay  slumbering  in  his  gigantic  frame,  com- 
pletely vanquished  the  well-trained  performer.  Such  an  one 
was  Hewetson  of  Glenmanna,  of  whom  many  a  story  is  told 
of  deeds  done  which  seem  almost  incredible.  His  achieve- 
ments were  the  talk  of  the  whole  country  side  far  and  near, 
and,  coming  to  the  ear  of  the  Duke  of  Buccleuch,  led  his 
grace  to  send  for  Glenmanna,  who  was  one  of  his  own 
tenants,  in  order  that  he  might  satisfy  himself  of  their  truth. 
The  result  was  that  the  Duke  carried  him  off  to  London  to 
exhibit  his  powers,  and  it  is  related  that  the  feats  performed 
by  him  in  the  metropolis  in  presence  of  the  Duke's  guests  filled 
them  with  amazement.  Notices  of  these  are  to  be  found  in 
the  Dumfries  Magazine  and  other  publications  of  the  period, 
and  his  monster  putting-stone  is  enumerated  in  the  appendix, 

History  of  Sanquhar.  301 

in  the  list  of  articles  of  antiquarian  interest  still  to  be  seen 
in  the  parish.  This  stone  weighs  150  Ibs. 

It  was,  therefore,  not  so  much  by  performances  of  this 
kind,  but  rather  by  those  in  which  agility  and  dexterity  were 
displayed,  that  the  minds  of  the  common  people  were  most 
readily  impressed.  Acrobatic  feats  and  sleight  of  hand  most 
puzzled  their  wits  and  excited  their  interest,  while  the  height 
of  the  showman's  profession  was,  in  their  eyes,  occupied  by 
the  owner  of  a  large  circus  or  a  wild-beast  menagerie.  The 
visits  of  these  latter  were  of  rarer  occurrence,  but,  when  they 
did  occur,  they  created  a  profound  sensation.  The  placarding 
of  the  streets  with  the  large  and  highly-coloured  posters 
raised  a  flutter  of  expectation  in  the  breasts  of  old  and  young 
alike.  The  day  of  arrival  was  a  red-letter  day.  Little  work 
was  done,  vast  crowds  gathered  from  the  whole  region 
around,  and  the  entire  population  who  could  move  lined  the 
streets  to  witness  the  imposing  procession  of  gilded  chariots 
and  gaily-caparisoned  steeds.  The  ground  on  which  the 
"  shows "  congregated  was  the  school  playground,  and  on 
such  great  occasions  the  old  schoolmaster,  in  letting  the 
ground,  made  it  a  condition  that  his  school  children  should 
be  admitted  to  a  special  afternoon  performance  on  terms 
which  were  within  the  reach  of  the  poorest.  The  children 
assembled  in  the  school,  and  marched  across  to  the  show 
with  their  master  at  their  head. 

Among  all  the  showmen,  however,  who  visited  Sanquhar, 
there  was  one  who  was  their  special  favourite,  and  that  was 
"Old  Ord,"  as  he  was  familiarly,  nay  affectionately,  called  by 
the  Sanquhar  people.  Mr  Ord  belonged  to  the  town  of 
Biggar,  and  was  altogether  an  exceptional  man  of  his  class. 
He  was  a  thoroughly  respectable  man,  and  most  respectably 
connected,  his  father,  it  is  said,  having  been  the  parish 
minister  of  Ettrick,  and  the  conduct  of  his  business  was  most 
regular  and  orderly.  Drinking  and  swearing  were  alike  pro- 
hibited ;  the  reader  will  therefore  understand  that  Ord  was 
a  showman  of  a  type  very  rare  in  those,  and  still  rarer  in 

302  History  of  Sanquhar. 

these  times.  He  was  a  tall,  spare  man ;  and  in  his  later  years, 
when  we  knew  him,  he  bore  a  singular  resemblance  in  both 
face  and  figure  to  Professor  Blackie  of  Edinburgh.  When- 
ever he  remained  over  Sabbath,  he  went  to  church  ;  his 
contribution  to  the  door  collection,  then  devoted  to  the  relief 
of  the  poor,  was  a  sovereign,  a  big  coin  to  be  seen  in  a  church 
plate  in  those  times  ;  and  in  his  prosperous  days,  when  he 
travelled  in  his  private  carriage,  accompanied  by  his  physician 
(for  this  was  his  practice),  he  spent  much  of  his  time  reading 
the  Bible. 

But  Ord,  like  most  men  of  his  class,  experienced  the  rough 
buffetings  of  fortune.  When  he  came  first  to  Sanquhar, 
about  seventy  years  ago,  he  was  in  a  very  small  way,  his 
entire  stud  consisting  of — a  donkey.  He  lingered  about  the 
place  for  some  time,  sufficiently  long  to  enable  the  people  to 
ascertain  the  true  worth  of  the  man.  A  feeling  of  sympathy 
for  him  sprang  up,  and  a  public  subscription  was  opened  to 
give  him  a  fair  start  in  life.  The  sum  raised  sufficed  for  the 
purchase  of  a  good  horse,  which  he  trained  to  the  ring.  This 
proved  the  turning-point  in  his  career,  and  the  kindness  of 
heart  shewn  to  him  by  the  Sanquhar  people  in  the  days  of 
his  adversity  he  never  forgot.  A  strong  feeling  of  mutual 
attachment  and  regard  was  engendered,  and  the  many  visits 
he  paid  to  the  town  were  not  like  the  flying  visits  to  other 
places  of  a  similar  size  ;  he  was  loth  to  leave  the  place  and 
the  people  where  and  by  whom  he  had  been  enabled  first  to 
place  his  foot  on  the  ladder  of  fame  and  fortune.  The  towns- 
people had  a  sort  of  feeling  that  he  belonged  to  them,  and 
they  followed  his  career  with  keen  interest  and  sympathy. 
Mr  Ord's  son  was  for  some  time  educated  at  Sanquhar  school. 

Though  reasonably  prosperous,  he  never  owned  a  big 
stud  ;  he  had  no  desire  apparently  to  possess  a  huge  estab- 
lishment similar  to  those  which  move  about  in  the  season 
from  town  to  town,  whose  employees  are  compelled  to  lead  a 
strange,  rough  life.  They  may  be  said  to  live  on  the  road. 
Arriving  at  a  town,  generally  during  the  forenoon,  the  pro- 

Histori*y  of  Sanquhar.  303 

cession  takes  place  two  or  three  hours  thereafter,  a  matinee 
performance  fills  up  the  greater  portion  of  the  afternoon, 
leaving  them  but  little  time  to  rest  and  prepare  for  the 
principal  performance  in  the  evening,  which  terminates  at  a 
late  hour.  No  sooner  has  the  place  been  cleared  of  the 
audience  than  a  gang  of  carnp-followers  proceed  to  strike 
tent ;  all  is  bustle  and  confusion  ;  and,  shouting,  swearing, 
and  jostling  each  other  in  their  mad  haste,  they  make  a 
perfect  bedlam,  and  the  flare  of  the  naphtha  torches  gives  the 
scene  a  wild  weird  look.  In  an  incredibly  short  space  of 
time  the  whole  is  taken  down,  and  packed  on  baggage 
waggons.  A  brief — very  brief — interval  for  rest  is  allowed, 
when  the  word  of  command  is  passed  round  ;  the  scene  of 
hurry,  confusion,  and  shouting  is  enacted  over  again.  Before 
morning  breaks  the  whole  has  vanished  like  a  dream,  leaving 
the  play-green  silent  and  desolate,  the  grass  trodden  and 
crushed  with  innumerable  feet,  and  the  surface  cut  and  dis- 
figured with  the  wheels  of  the  ponderous  waggons,  while  all 
around  are  strewn  heaps  of  straw  and  steaming  manure  to 
pollute  the  freshness  of  the  morning  air.  Meanwhile  the 
poor  showmen  and  showwomen  are  pushing  along  on  their 
dark  night  march,  and  those  who  only  a  few  hours  before  had 
been  flying  round  the  ring,  glorious  in  their  spangled  dresses, 
and  flushed  with  the  plaudits  of  a  vast  crowd  of  admiring 
spectators,  may  now  be  seen,  pale  and  exhausted,  vainly 
trying  to  snatch  an  hour's  sleep,  while  their  wearied  limbs 
can  ill  bear  the  jolting  of  the  waggons  on  their  forced 
march  over  the  rough  country  roads.  Such  is  the  life  of  the 
showman,  and  a  rough  life  it  is.  The  only  good  sound  sleep 
he  gets  is  at  the  end  of  the  week,  for  the  stage  of  the 
journey  between  Saturday  and  Monday  is  taken  on  the 
Sabbath  day — at  least,  this  has  latterly  grown  to  be  the 
practice.  The  travelling  of  these  establishments  on  Sabbath, 
particularly  during  church  hours,  along  quiet  country  roads 
and  through  quiet  country  villages  and  parishes  is  one  that, 
for  the  day,  exercises  a  demoralising  effect  on  the  juvenile 

304  History  of  Sanquhar. 

population  over  a  wide  extent  of  country,  and  causes,  when 
it  does  occur,  just  complaint  by  the  respectable  portion  of 
the  community.  It  cannot  be  justified  on  the  ground  of 
necessity  ;  this  is  proved  by  the  fact  that  only  in  recent 
years  has  the  practice  commenced.  The  showman  of 
a  past  generation  had  some  regard  for  the  sacredness  of  the 
day,  and  for  the  religious  susceptibilities  of  his  neighbours. 
Old  Ord,  of  whom,  however,  we  would  more  particularly 
speak,  was,  as  will  be  gathered  from  what  has  already 
been  said  of  him,  a  man  of  a  very  different  stamp  to 
the  modern  showman.  In  many  respects,  his  ways  were 
not  the  ways  of  his  profession  generally,  not  merely  in 
his  character  and  social  habits,  but  likewise  in  his  method 
of  doing  business.  He  took  things  more  quietly  and  leisurely. 
His  was  an  open-air  performance,  and  continued  to  be  so 
even  when  he  became  a  very  old  man.  He  was  the  sole 
equestrian,  but,  in  the  estimation  of  all  his  admirers,  he  was 
a  host  in  himself.  The  preparations  made  were  of  a  very 
simple  character.  A  broad  circular  path  was  formed  by 
"  flaying  "  the  sods  off  the  surface  of  the  ground,  and  these 
being  piled  up  all  round  the  path  formed  a  bank,  which 
served  to  keep  the  youngsters  off  the  course.  Around  the 
arena  thus  formed  the  grown  people  stood,  while  the  juveniles 
squatted  on  the  ground  in  front.  Notwithstanding  the  lack 
of  many  of  the  accessories  of  his  profession,  and  the 
absence  of  any  professional  training,  Mr  Ord,  having 
learnt  all  that  he  knew  by  hard  work  and  persever- 
ance, the  entertainment  he  gave  was  undeniably  one 
of  genuine  merit.  It  embraced  a  variety  of  the  usual  tricks 
of  daring  horsemanship,  but  the  piece  de  resistance — the 
item  which  took  the  fancy  of  old  and  young  alike  was  of  a 
burlesque  kind,  and  was  naturally  kept  to  the  end.  It  con- 
sisted of  a  representation  of  characters,  half-a-dozen  in 
number,  all  done  on  horseback.  The  old  man  retired  to  a 
neighbouring  house  to  dress,  and,  after  an  interval,  re- 
appeared in  the  ring,  somewhat  bulky  in  figure,  for  he  bore 

History  of  Sanquhar.  305 

about  his  body,  one  over  the  other,  and  all  fixed  by  a 
mysterious  arrangement  of  strings,  the  whole  series  of  vest- 
ments required  for  the  representation.  Into  the  centre  of 
the  ring  had  meanwhile  been  brought  the  various  stage 
properties  necessary.  Mounted  on  his  best  trained  horse  off 
he  went,  twirling  a  shillelagh,  dancing  an  Irish  jig,  and 
giving  a  wonderfully  realistic  sketch  of  Irish  character. 
Flinging  away  stick  and  bonnet,  he  pulled  a  string  and 
forthwith  the  entire  suit  fell  away,  revealing  him  next  as  a 
sailor,  whereupon  clapping  on  his  head  a  straw  hat,  which  had 
been  tossed  up  to  him  by  his  attendant,  he  placed  his  arms 
a-kimbo,  and  danced  a  hornpipe  to  the  tune  of  "  Jack  a  Tar." 
This  done,  another  string  was  drawn,  and  he  appeared  as  a 
"  soldier  bold."  To  this  succeeded  "  the  drucken  fishwife.'' 
With  a  clean  white  "  mutch,"  the  old  man  looked  the  part 
of  the  auld  wife  to  perfection,  his  face,  it  is  said,  closely 
resembling  that  of  Bettie  Sloan,  an  old  Sanquhar  woman. 
He  staggered  about  on  the  horse's  back  in  the  most  reckless 
manner,  but  ever  kept  his  feet.  Still  another  string  was 
pulled,  and  off  flew  the  skirt,  when,  last  of  all,  he  appeared 
in  all  the  glory  of  the  tartan-kilt — a  warlike  Highland  chief- 
tain. There  were  handed  up  to  him  a  bonnet  and  plume,  a 
shield  and  a  gleaming  broadsword.  Rousing  his  lagging 
steed,  with  a  hoarse  roar,  he  flew  round  the  ring,  his  face 
aglow  with  the  passion  of  war,  cut  and  thrust,  parried  and 
fenced,  as  if  engaged  in  a  desperate  single-handed  combat. 
On  the  duel  went  with  increasing  determination  and  fury  to 
the  inspiring  strains  of  "  Rob  Roy  Macgregor  O,"  played  by 
his  fiddler.  Higher  and  higher. rose  the  enthusiasm  of  the 
rustic  crowd,  till,  both  man  and  horse  exhausted,  he  sprang 
to  the  ground,  amid  a  perfect  whirlwind  of  applause.  The 
transformation  could  go  no  further,  for  he  had  now  got  to 
the  bare  skin,  and  thus  ended  a  display  which  can  never  be 
forgotten  by  those  who  had  the  good  fortune  to  witness  it. 

Another  favourite  representation  of  his  was  what  he  dig- 
nified with  the  title  of  "  The  St.  Petersburg  Courier,"  and 


306  History  of  Sanquhar. 

consisted  of  his  riding  six  bare-backed  horses  abreast.  With 
his  feet  planted  on  the  outside  pair  (and  this  he  was  only 
enabled  to  do  by  the  length  of  his  legs,  which  were  dispro- 
portionately long  for  even  a  tall  man  like  him),  he  made  the 
circuit  of  the  course  a  few  times,  then  liberated  a  pair  of 
the  horses,  which  immediately  dashed  to  the  front  ;  by  and 
bye  another  pair  were  freed,  and  so  in  pairs  they  pursued 
each  other  till,  gently  reining  in  the  pair  which  he  continued 
to  ride,  he  allowed  the  first  and  then  the  second  pair  to  over- 
take him,  each  pair  as  they  drew  up  resuming  their  places 
in  the  team.  This  was  repeated  time  after  time,  and  the 
exhibition  was  justly  regarded  as  a  good  example  both  of 
training  and  horsemanship. 

Variety  was  given  to  the  entertainment  by  his  son-in-law, 
Delaney,  also  a  tall  man,  who  was  equally  great  in  his 
department  of  acrobat.  He  turned  somersaults  with 
perfect  ease,  and  bent  his  body  into  shapes  and  forms 
wondeii'ul  to  behold.  One  feat  which  he  performed  will 
itself  give  an  idea  of  his  capabilities.  He  mounted  step  by 
step  a  ladder  12  or  15  feet  in  height,  set  up  on  the  bare 
ground,  and  totally  unsupported.  Slowly  and  steadily  he 
ascended,  till  he  had  reached  the  top.  The  ladder  was  so 
constructed  that  the  one  side,  with  the  steps,  could  be 
detached  by  a  jerk  from  the  other.  Seizing  then  with  his 
right  hand  the  head  of  the  one  side,  he  with  his  left  sharply 
jerked  away  the  other  with  the  steps  attached,  which  then 
fell  to  the  ground.  Poising  himself  on  the  top  of  the  bare 
pole  which  he  grasped,  he  swung  his  body  gradually  upwards, 
and  finished  by  standing  on  his  head  on  its  very  top. 

The  entertainment  being  open  and  free,  the  reader 
may  ask — How  was  the  establishment  kept  up  ?  It  was 
by  a  lottery,  the  tickets  for  which  were  sold  round  the 
ring  in  the  intervals  of  the  performance,  and  by  the  proceeds 
of  a  dramatic  representation,  which  took  place  in  the  Council 
House,  the  favourite  piece  acted  being  "  Gilderoy." 

Ord,  having  reached  what  for  him  was  a  state  of  high 

History  of  Sanquhar.  307 

prosperity — when  his  stud  embraced  half  a  score  of  valuable 
horses,  bethought  himself  that  he  would  take  a  journey  over 
the  Border,  and  seek  "  fresh  fields  and  pastures  new."  He 
travelled  over  a  considerable  part  of  England,  and  eventually 
found  his  way  into  Wales.  Here  a  sad  disaster  befel  him, 
for,  by  their  having  drunk  water  impregnated  with  some 
poisonous  substance,  he  lost  his  whole  stud  except  two.  He 
retraced  his  steps  to  Scotland,  sore  stricken  in  spirit.  For 
some  years  longer  he  wandered  up  and  down  the  country, 
but  in  a  sadly-reduced  state,  and  finally  disappeared  from  the 
road  about  thirty  years  ago.  His  ashes  rest  in  the  church- 
yard of  his  native  town,  Biggar.  R.I.P. 

The  lame  fiddler  appeared  in  his  old  haunts  at  fitful 
intervals  long  after  his  old  master  had  passed  away, 
and  many  a  copper  was  tossed  to  him  for  the  sake  of 
"  Old  Ord." 

There  were  but  few  amusements  to  relieve  the  dulness  and 
gloom  of  the  long  winter  nights.  During  the  day,  whenever 
frost  occurred,  the  game  of  curling  was  followed  with  great 
spirit,  and  in  the  evenings  the  games  were  played  over  again 
by  the  curlers  either  at  their  own  firesides  or  in  the  public- 
houses  over  a  "dram."  The  opportunities  of  curling  were  more 
regular  and  extended  in  the  early  years  of  the  century  than 
they  have  been  in  recent  times.  At  least,  it  is  a  prevailing 
impression  among  the  older  people  that  the  seasons  were 
then  more  severe,  and  that,  from  whatever  cause,  the  winters 
now  are  more  open  and  mild,  as  a  rule,  and  this  idea  seems 
to  be  borne  out  by  the  records  of  the  Curling  Society,  which 
shew  a  comparatively  unbroken  round  of  games  winter  after 
winter.  Though  that  was  the  case,  there  were,  however, 
many  weeks  of  every  season  when  there  was  no  frost,  and 
other  forms  of  amusement  had  sought  after.  Among 
these,  draught  playing,  was  practised  to  a  considerable  extent, 
and  there  were  many  excellent  players  in  the  town.  Here, 
and  in  the  neighbouring  parish  of  Kirkconnel,  especially  in 
the  latter,  there  was  a  group  of  players  who  could  hold  their 

308  History  of  Sanquhar. 

own  with  the  best  exponents  of  the  game.  Wylie,  "  The 
Herd  Laddie,"  and  the  world's  champion  at  one  period,  came 
to  Kirkconnel  when  quite  a  lad.  He  had  already  attracted 
attention  as  a  promising  player,  and,  finding  a  congenial 
society  in  the  little  village,  he  stayed  about  the  place  for 
weeks,  having  nightly  encounters  with  the  more  notable 
players.  In  Jamie  Steel  he  found  his  match,  and  the  young 
lad,  whose  fame  was  destined  to  spread  wherever  the  game 
was  known,  confessed  that,  during  his  sojourn  in  Kirkconnel, 
his  play  was  much  improved. 

Amateur  theatricals  were  likewise  a  source  of  amusement. 
A  company  composed  of  young  men  of  the  town  performed 
winter  after  winter.  It  cannot  be  said  they  displayed  any 
great  degree  of  histrionic  talent,  but  their  efforts  proved 
quite  satisfactory  to  their  audiences.  At  the  same  time, 
there  were  individual  cases  where  an  intelligent  and  sym- 
pathetic rendering  of  the  part  was  really  accomplished.  In 
the  "  Gentle  Shepherd,"  for  example,  which  was  naturally  a 
special  favourite  with  such  an  audience,  illustrating,  as  it 
did,  incidents  which  were  those  of  their  own  daily  lives,  the 
uncouth  manners  and  broad  humour  of  "  Bauldie "  were 
admirably  interpreted  by  Charlie  M'lver.  In  successive 
representations  in  later  times  of  this  comedy  the  part  was 
assumed  by  others,  but  it  was  generally  allowed  that  none 
could  compare  to  "  Charlie."  The  whole  of  the  characters, 
male  and  female,  were  sustained  by  men,  none  of  the  girls 
ever  venturing  upon  the  stage  ;  any  one  who  did  would  have 
been  held  lacking  in  modesty.  Female  parts  were  assigned, 
therefore,  to  those  who  were  of  moderate  stature,  and  of  that 
feminine  cast  of  countenance  which  would  readily  lend  itself 
to  a  successful  make-up,  for  this,  even  more  than  the  acting, 
was  held  of  the  highest  importance;  and  thus  "The  Button," 
as  he  was  called,  a  lively  little  man,  played  the  part  of 
Manse.  So  completely  was  he  disguised,  and  so  perfectly 
did  he  look  the  old  crone,  that  on  the  last  occasion  on  which 
he  ever  played,  one  of  the  audience  who  sat  near  the  stage, 

History  of  Sanquhar.  309 

and  who  knew  him  well,  inquired  of  a  neighbour — "  Whae's 
Mause  ?"  and  received  for  answer — "Whae's  Mause  ?  D'ye 
no  ken  'The  Button?'  He's  as  like  what  his  auld  aunt 
Mary  was  as  she  had  sputten  him."  But  "  The  Button  " 
revealed  himself  before  all  was  done.  Those  who  have  seen 
the  play  know  that  it  is  brought  to  a  close  by  the  singing  of 
"  Corn  Rigs  and  Barley  Rigs."  The  whole  of  the  company 
had  assembled  on  the  stage  in  a  circle,  and  the  chorus  began. 
"The  Button,"  tired  of  the  restraint  to  which  he  had  been 
subjected  the  whole  evening,  and  entering  thoroughly  into 
the  spirit  of  the  occasion,  suddenly  broke  forth  on  his  own 
account.  He  had  a  fine  tenor  voice,  and  suiting  the  action 
to  the  words,  he  sang  this  fine  old  song  in  a  style  that  fairly 
captivated  the  audience. 

The  ideas  of  stage  representation  possessed  by  amateur 
companies  were  certainly  crude  and  original,  and  would  have 
sent  an  habitue  of  city  theatres  into  fits  of  laughter,  but  in 
this  case  ignorance  was  bliss,  and  these  theatrical  entertain- 
ments served  the  admirable  purpose  of  brightening  by 
innocent  amusement  the  minds  of  simple  country  folks,  whose 
lives  at  the  best  were  dull  and  monotonous  enough. 
Incidents,  the  humour  and  ludicrousness  of  which  were,  how- 
ever, apparent  to  even  such  a  simple  audience,  did  sometimes 
occur,  as,  for  instance,  in  the  representation  of  Sir  Walter 
Scott's  "  Rob  Roy."  The  person  who  sustained  the  role  of 
Andrew  Fairservice  had  diligently  learnt  his  part,  learnt  it 
in  truth  too  well.  The  little  manual  contained,  at  a  certain 
point,  the  stage  direction  (Enter  A  ndrew  Fairservice~drunk~). 
He  failed  to  understand  that  he  was  simply  to  act  as  herein 
directed — that  is,  swagger  on  to  the  stage  as  if  in  a  drunken 
condition — but  at  the  proper  moment  he  rushed  on  the  stage, 
with  neither  staggering  gait  nor  befuddled  countenance,  but 
straight  and  steady,  and  having  assumed  what  he  thought  a 
striking  attitude,  announced  himself  by  shouting — "  Enter 
Andrew  Fairservice,  drunk."  This  ridiculous  contretemps 
fairly  brought  down  the  house. 

310  History  of  Sanqular. 

These  representations  were  given  in  the  Council  House,  in 
the  principal  room,  which,  however,  only  measured  about 
400  square  feet  on  the  floor.  The  stage  was  necessarily  very 
limited,  and  in  order  to  accommodate  as  many  as  possible, 
the  audience  sat  in  one  steep  gallery,  reaching  from  the  verge 
of  the  stage  to  the  back,  those  on  the  top  bench  having  to 
bend  low  under  the  very  ceiling.  Night  after  night  the 
place  was  packed  to  suffocation,  but  in  spite  of  the  crush  and 
the  heat,  the  company  made,  performers  and  spectators 
together,  a  right  merry  party. 

"  Douglas,"  "  The  -Rose  of  Ettrick  Vale,"  "  Rob  Roy," 
"  Pizarro,"  and  other  dramatic  pieces,  were  put  on  the  stage 
from  time  to  time,  but  the  "  Gentle  Shepherd  "  it  was  that 
most  correctly  hit  the  popular  taste. 

The  foregoing  is  a  sketch,  and  only  a  sketch,  of  the  social 
condition  and  economics  of  the  life  of  the  inhabitants  of  this 
and  many  other  districts  of  Scotland  during  the  period 
immediately  prior  to  the  introduction  of  the  railway  system 
into  the  country. 

Let  us  now  glance  at  the  effects,  immediate  and  ultimate, 
of  the  introduction  of  railways  on  the  life  and  manners  of  the 
inhabitants  of  every  region  into  which  they  have  penetrated, 
for  this  was  an  event  which  amounted  to  a  revolution,  the 
results  of  which  were  deep  and  far-reaching.  The  first  effect 
was  a  quickening  of  trade,  caused  by  the  circulation  of  the 
money  paid  in  wages  in  connection  with  their  construction. 
The  bands  of  navvies  employed — English,  Scotch,  and  Irish 
— were  a  reckless  and  improvident  class,  and  the  whole  of 
their  earnings  were  spent  in  the  gratification  of  their 
appetites.  The  public-house  came  in  for  a  large  share,  but 
every  branch  of  trade  benefited  to  a  certain  extent  ;  and  the 
tradesmen  and  dealers  who  were  careful  to  make  hay  while 
the  sun  shone,  found  themselves  speedily  in  a  position  of  ease 
and  comfort.  This  immediate  quickening  of  trade  was  a  result 
of  railway  making  which  had  been  foreseen  by  the  bulk  of 
the  country  people,  and  was  a  consideration  which  largely 

History  of  Sanquhdr.  311 

accounted  for  the  extraordinary  enthusiasm  with  which  they 
hailed  the  advent  of  this  new  and  expeditious  mode  of 
travelling,  but  they  had  failed  to  grasp  what  its  enduring 
results  in  the  course  of  time  would  prove.  No  sooner,  how- 
ever, was  the  work  completed,  and  the  floating  population,  to 
which  its  construction  gave  rise,  had  gone,  than  the  people  had 
leisure  to  realise  that,  so  far  from  the  railway  having  a  per- 
manent influence  towards  the  improvement  and  development 
of  trade,  the  tendency  was  to  be  altogether  in  the  opposite 
direction,  so  far  as  small  country  towns  were  concerned.  In 
addition  to  the  trade  of  the  resident  population,  Sanquhar 
had  benefited  to  a  considerable  extent  from  the  passenger 
traffic  by  coach  and  otherwise,  and  by  the  extensive  cartage 
of  coals  from  the  pits  in  the  vicinity  all  over  a  wide  district 
of  country.  The  whole  of  the  passenger  traffic  was 
immediately,  and  the  large  proportion  of  the  goods  traffic 
gradually,  but  surely,  swept  from  the  countiy  roads,  the 
result  being  that,  when  the  influence  of  this  new  power  had 
had  time  to  have  its  full  effect,  the  trade  of  such  small 
towns  was  found  to  be  irretrievably  ruined,  and  the  peace 
and  quiet  of  many  a  country  district,  after  the  din  and 
stir  which  awoke  it  up  for  a  brief  period  had  ceased,  reigned 
more  profound  than  ever.  Speaking  of  trade,  it  may  be  here 
incidentally  remarked  that  the  streets  of  country  towns  have 
likewise  been  rendered  more  silent  still  by  a  change  in  the 
method  of  trading  of  late  years,  for  which  the  keener  compe- 
tition in  all  branches  of  enterprise  is  principally,  and  the 
railway  system  in  a  minor  degree,  responsible.  Part  of  the 
produce  of  the  farms,  butter,  eggs,  &c.,  was  carried  to  the 
town  to  market,  and  this  was  a  part  of  her  work,  which, 
though  the  burden  was  sometimes  very  considerable,  was 
cheerfully  undertaken  by  the  dairymaid.  It  was  a  pleasant 
outing,  and  further,  as  it  afforded  possible  opportunities  of 
flirtation  with  one  or  other  of  the  young  gallants  who  might 
offer  to  carry  her  basket,  or  give  her  a  good  long  Scotch 
convoy  on  her  way  home,  she,  with  a  true  woman's  instinct, 

312  History  of  Sanquhar. 

made  careful  preparations  for  going  to  the  town.  Her  hair 
was  put  up  with  special  care,  and  her  dress  consisted  of  a 
loose  jacket,  called  a  "juip,"  made  of  printed  cotton,  the 
favourite  pattern  being  a  very  small  pink  tick  or  stripe,  tied 
at  the  neck  by  a  bright  ribbon,  formed  at  the  throat  into  a 
neat  bow  or  rosette,  and  her  best  and  newest  striped  drugget 
petticoat,  worn  comparatively  short.  A  sun-bonnet,  clean 
and  well  starched,  shaded  her  comely  face,  which  had  the 
hue  of  ruddy  health  and  happy  content,  while,  as  often  as 
not,  she  tripped  along  barefoot,  which  she  was  none  ashamed 
to  do,  particularly  if  she  was  conscious  of  the  possession  of 
a  shapely  foot  and  a  well-turned  ankle.  No  one  received  a 
more  hearty  welcome  by  the  shopkeeper  than  the  dairymaid, 
for  not  only  did  the  sweet  fragrant  rolls  of  butter  and  the  fresh 
laid  eggs,  swathed  in  the  folds  of  a  towel  spotlessly  clean, 
which  she  bore  in  the  basket  over  her  arm,  find  a  ready  sale 
among  his  customers,  but  as  their  payment  was  generally,  on 
the  system  of  barter,  taken  out  in  kind,  consisting  of  house- 
hold necessaries,  the  transaction  was  one  of  double  advantage 
to  him. 

This  practice  has  almost  entirely  disappeared,  having  given 
place  to  a  system  of  travelling-shops.  From  each  small  town 
a  string  of  carts  belonging  to  the  various  traders  daily  scour 
the  country  in  all  directions,  vicing  with  each  other  for  the 
trade,  not  only  of  the  farm-houses,  but  likewise  of  every 
cottage  within  reach.  They  bear  loads  of  every  conceivable 
thing,  in  the  way  of  provisions,  required  by  the  housewife. 
A  considerable  change  had  already  taken  place  in  the  diet  of 
town  families  ;  baker's  bread  and  biscuits  having  been  sub- 
stituted for  porridge  and  oatmeal  cakes,  and  the  consumption 
of  such  things  as  jams  and  jellies,  tinned  meats  and  other 
dainties  had  become  very  great ;  but  up  to  the  time,  about 
a  dozen  years  ago,  when  these  travelling  shops  began  to  go 
their  rounds,  this  change  of  diet  had  not  been  adopted 
among  the  families  of  shepherds  and  agricultural  labourers. 
With  these  fancy  articles  brought  to  their  doors,  however, 

History  of  Sanquhar.  313 

and  pressed  upon  them  by  the  traders,  they  have  been 
gradually  led  to  abandon  to  a  great  extent  their  former 
simple  and  wholesome  diet.  For  this  great  and  grievous 
change  the  housewives  must  be  held  responsible,  and  a  heavy 
responsibility  it  is,  for  to  it  is  in  large  measure  due  the 
deterioration  in  physique  which  is  observable  in  the  classes 
referred  to.  Mothers  have,  unfortunately,  had  more  regard 
to  their  own  ease  and  convenience  than  to  economy  in  house- 
hold management  and  to  the  health  and  physical  well-being 
of  their  children. 

In  the  matter  of  dress,  likewise,  the  changes  were  com- 
paratively unimportant.  The  inhabitants  of  country  districts 
had  no  acquaintance  with  the  vagaries  of  fashion,  which 
nowhere,  it  is  true,  either  in  town  or  country,  were  then  so 
frequent  or  extraordinary  as  they  have  since  become,  owing 
to  the  vastly  increased  wealth  now  distributed  over  large 
classes  of  the  population.  Their  dress  more  nearly  conformed 
to  the  necessities  of  their  calling,  or  of  the  climate,  and, 
therefore,  the  prevailing  style  continued  very  much  in 
the  form  in  which  it  had  been  handed  down  by  a  previous 
generation.  In  rural  parts,  indeed,  there  was  then  less 
distinction  "of  classes  ;  the  people  were  all,  with  very  few 
exceptions,  more  on  a  general  level  of  material  condition. 
There  were  among  them  no  social  leaders,  from  whom  new 
ideas  in  dress  might  be  borrowed  ;  the  only  glimpse  they 
could  have  of  the  prevailing  fashion  was  from  a  lady-pas- 
senger by  the  coach. 

But  the  effects  of  the  railway,  in  leading  to  an  assimila- 
tion in  manners  both  as  to  food  and  dress  of  the  people  in 
the  town  and  country,  are  self-evident,  through  the  more 
frequent  and  regular  intercourse  which  was  secured  between 
the  inhabitants  of  one  part  and  another,  so  that  those  in 
rural  districts  have  been  led  to  abandon  their  simple  tastes, 
and  to  ape  the  more  artificial,  or  if  you  will,  refined  tastes  of 
the  dwellers  in  towns. 

Another  effect  of  the  railway  was  to  accelerate  and  increaee 


314  History  of  Sanqii kar. 

the  depopulation  of  the  country  districts,  to  which  reference 
has  been  made.  It  is  true  that  in  Scotland,  more  than  in 
any  other  country,  people  of  humble  condition  prized  highly, 
and  made  in  many  instances  considerable  sacrifices  to  secure 
to  their  children,  the  benefits  of  education,  brought  within 
their  reach  by  the  excellent  system  of  parish  schools.  A 
large  proportion  of  the  masters  of  those  schools  were  univer- 
sity bred  men  (the  profession  of  schoolmaster  was  that  upon 
which  many  "  stickit  ministers  "  had  to  fall  back),  and  so  it 
came  about  that  the  bright  and  promising  scholar  was  able 
to  gather  a  knowledge  of  the  classics,  sufficient  to  enable  him 
to  step  up  into  the  university,  and  the  ranks  of  the  students 
were  to  such  a  large  extent  swelled  by  raw  country  lads  who 
had  to  "  cultivate  philosophy  on  a  little  oatmeal,"  for  their 
parents'  circumstances  compelled  them  to  practise  in  their 
scholastic  days  the  humble  style  of  living  in  which  they  had 
been  brought  up.  They  were  sprung  from  a  shrewd,  hard- 
headed  race,  and  the  habits  of  industry,  of  self-restraint,  and 
self-reliance,  to  which  they  had  been  accustomed,  enabled 
them  to  hold  their  own  in  the  contest  for  scholastic  honours, 
and  afterwards  in  the  arena  of  public  life,  against  those  who 
had  been  nursed  in  the  lap  of  luxury,  and  enjoyed  the 
advantage  of  influential  social  connections. 

The  numbers,  however,  who  were  thus  drawn  away  to 
other  spheres  of  labour  than  their  own  native  vales,  or  who 
voluntarily  migrated  to  the  towns,  or  even  went  beyond 
seas  in  quest  of  their  fortunes,  never  represented  at  any  time 
more  than  the  natural  surplus  of  population,  the  regular 
excess  of  births  over  deaths ;  in  truth,  in  many  country 
parishes,  in  spite  of  the  drain  from  these  causes,  there  was 
rather  a  tendency  to  increase  of  the  population ;  but  the 
introduction  of  railways  marked  the  point  from  which  a 
movement  of  the  inhabitants  of  country  parishes  to  the  large 
centres  of  industry  and  commerce  has  gone  on  in  ever- 
increasing  volume.  The  extent  of  this  shifting  of  population 
is  revealed  in  the  last  census  returns,  those  of  1891,  in  figures 

History  of  Sanquhar.  Si  5 

which  have  startled  the  country,  and  caused  grave  concern 
in  the  minds  of  thoughtful  men.  It  is  to  be  attributed  to 
the  double  influence  of,  on  the  one  hand,  the  attractions  of 
town  life,  consisting  of  a  higher  rate  of  wages,  and  amuse- 
ments and  other  social  considerations,  which  powerfully  affect 
the  imagination  of  people  whose  daily  life  and  habits  are 
simple  and  homely  ;  and  on  the  other,  of  the  expulsive  force 
exercised  by  the  short-sighted  policy  of  the  land-owning  class, 
according  to  which  many  of  our  small  country  towns  are,  as 
it  were,  bound  with  an  iron  ring  of  restriction.  "  Hitherto 
thou  shalt  go,  and  no  further,"  is  the  fiat  of  the  landlord — a 
fiat  as  irresistible  in  the  present  state  of  the  law  as  the 
divine  decrees,  and  has  effectually  quelled  the  enterprise  of 
what  might  have  been  thriving  communities  in  many  districts 
of  the  country.  So  long  as  communication  was  difficult  and 
expensive,  the  rural  population  remained  in  a  condition  of 
passive  submission  to  a  state  of  matters  which  there  seemed 
no  hope  of  bettering,  and  from  which  there  appeared  no  way 
of  escape.  The  history  of  one  generation  was  repeated  in  the 
next,  and  so  long  as  they  knew  no  better,  so  long  did  the 
people  remain  contented  with  their  lot.  But  the  railway 
changed  all  that.  The  opportunity  was  now  offered  to  those 
living  in  out-of-the-way  places  to  make  an  excursion  into  the 
great  world,  which  had  been  hitherto  beyond  their  ken.  The 
cheap  trips  which  were  organised  by  the  railway  companies 
brought  enormous  numbers  of  country  folks  to  the  large 
towns.  No  sooner  did  these  crowds  step  on  the  streets  than 
they  stood  still,  bewildered  and  amazed.  The  houses  appeared 
to  the  eyes  of  those  who  had  been  accustomed  all  their  lives 
to  little  low-roofed  thatch  cottages  as  if  they  towered  up  to 
heaven.  They  gazed,  open-mouthed,  while  their  minds  were 
awed  with  the  vast  crowds  of  human  beings  as  they  passed 
along  with  keen,  eager  faces  and  quick  hurried  steps,  and 
with  the  roaring  tide  of  traffic.  By  and  bye,  when  they  had 
become  somewhat  accustomed  to  these  marvellous  sights  and 
sounds,  their  attention  was  attracted  by  the  shop-windows, 

316  History  of  Sanquhar. 

and  there  they  speedily  found  fresh  cause  for  wonder,  for 
there  they  saw  such  a  display  of  wealth  and  splendour  as 
they  had  never  dreamt  of. 

Many  of  them  dared  not  venture  out  of  sight  of  the  rail- 
way station,  fearful  lest  they  should  lose  themselves  in  what 
appeared  to  them  a  labyrinth  of  streets  and  lanes,  from 
which,  once  they  were  entangled,  there  would  be  no  hope  of 
escape  ;  but  though  their  sight-seeing  was  thus  of  a  veiy 
limited  extent,  they  came  away  profoundly  impressed  with 
the  greatness  and  glory,  the  wealth  and  magnificence  of  the 
city.  The  whole  presented  to  their  wondering  eyes  and  their 
simple  minds  a  dazzling  vision,  which,  on  their  return,  they 
vainly  tried  to  describe  to  the  folks  at  home,  who  in  turn 
longed  to  view  the  wondrous  sight.  One  can  easily  imagine 
how  powerfully  it  affected  the  younger  people,  teaching  them 
to  sCorn  their  slow  dull  life  and  simple  ways,  and  firing  them 
with  the  desire  to  see  more  of  the  world,  of  which  they  had 
had  but  a  passing  glimpse,  and  to  share  in  the  excitement 
and  pleasure  of  a  life  which  seemed  to  their  unsophisticated 
minds  one  of  supreme  happiness.  Their  spirit  was  stirred  in 
them  ;  no  longer  could  they  settle  contentedly  down  to  their 
quiet  humdrum  existence  ;  they  must  hie  away  to  where 
fame  and  fortune  were  to  be  reaped,  and  where  pleasure 
waited  on  them  at  every  step. 

In  another  way  the  railway  operated  towards  the  depopu- 
lation of  rural  districts.  Prior  to  this  time  there  had  existed 
in  country  parts  a  large  number  of  small  factories  and  manu- 
facturing works  and  many  home  industries,  principal  among 
which  was  hand-loom  weaving,  affording  employment  to 
thousands  of  families,  but  the  railway  tended  to  draw  together 
these  industries  into  large  centres.  Immense  factories 
sprang  up,  in  which  the  power-loom  was  introduced  ;  the 
coal  and  iron  industries,  now  increasing  by  gigantic  strides, 
offered  a  rate  of  wages  which,  notwithstanding  the  many 
drawbacks  of  the  work,  proved  an  irresistible  attraction  to 
those  whose  earnings  were  barely  sufficient  to  keep  life  in, 

History  of  Sanquhar.  3 1 7 

and  the  consequent  development  of  the  general  trade  of  the 
towns  in  all  its  branches  caused  the  tide  of  migration  to  rise 
higher  and  higher.  With  regard  to  those  who  still  inhabit 
the  rural  parishes,  notable  changes,  as  has  been  said,  have 
occurred  within  the  last  forty  years  in  their  habits,  in  the 
matter  of  food  and  dress,  and  these  changes  are  directly 
traceable,  in  a  large  degree,  to  the  influence  of  the  improved 
communication  brought  about  by  the  system  of  railways. 
Brought  into  contact,  as  they  never  were  before,  with  the 
denizens  of  the  large  towns,  the  country  people  have  been 
led  to  discard  their  former  simple  habits,  and  to  adopt  the 
more  artificial  habits  of  townsfolk.  From  every  centre  of 
commerce  there  issues  a  perfect  army  of  commercial  men, 
who  spread  themselves  over  the  whole  land,  pressing  the 
sale  of  articles  of  daily  use — preserved  fruits,  spices,  tinned 
meats,  and  a  countless  variety  of  articles  of  foreign  produce, 
now  brought  into  our  ports  from  every  quarter  of  the  globe. 
These  again  are  carried  to  the  very  doors  of  the  people  in 
the  remotest  corners  of  the  country  by  strings  of  vans  and 
carts,  and  thus  the  habits  of  the  people  have  been  entirely 
changed,  some  will  say,  corrupted. 

What  is  true  with  respect  to  food  is  equally  true  in  regard 
to  dress.  The  stray  visit  of  the  pedlar  was  the  only  oppor- 
tunity afforded  of  seeing  or  purchasing  anything  of  a  fancy 
kind  in  the  way  of  dress.  In  truth,  his  pack  was  made  up 
rather  of  the  finer  sorts  of  house  plenishing,  linen  and  the 
like,  and  even  the  stock  of  the  draper  and  clothier  in  small 
towns  was  almost  wholly  composed  of  woollen  materials 
designed  for  wear,  and  not  for  display.  The  tailors  or 
dressmakers  in  Sanquhar  could  be  almost  counted  on  the 
fingers  of  the  hand,  the  system  of  working  in  the  homes 
of  their  customers,  subsequently  referred  to  as  practised  by 
tailors,  was  likewise  followed  by  dressmakers,  who  were 
expected  to  finish  a  lady's  dress  in  a  day,  so  plain  were 
the  fashions  of  the  time ;  and,  perhaps,  to  cut  out  a 
child's  frock,  to  be  sewed  by  the  mother  at  her  leisure,  her 

3 1 8  History  of  Sa  nquhar. 

wage  for  this  being  Is  per  day  and  her  food.  Now,  dress- 
makers can  be  counted  by  the  dozen.  They  pay  periodical 
visits  to  the  large  towns  "  to  see  the  fashions,"  and  make  the 
purchases  necessary  to  enable  them  to  keep  their  customers 
abreast  of  the  times.  Magazines  giving  directions  for  the 
manipulation  of  these  fashions  are  read  not  only  by  all 
engaged  in  the  business  of  dressmaking,  but  likewise  in  many 
private  families,  shewing  to  what  an  extent  women's  thoughts 
are  now  given  to  their  personal  adornment,  in  contrast  to  the 
habits  of  their  grandmothers. 

In  the  department  of  millinery  likewise,  the  change  is 
noteworthy.  Down  to  fifty  years  ago,  the  milliner,  with  her 
ribbons,  lace,  and  gum-flowers,  had  not  yet  appeared,  nor  had 
the  flimsy,  fantastic  creations  with  which  she  now  crowns  the 
head  of  her  fair  devotees.  Our  mothers  contented  themselves 
with  good,  plain  straw,  their  only  ambition  in  this  connection 
being  to  be  possessed  of  a  "  leghorn."  These  leghorn  straws, 
though  expensive  at  the  outset,  served  as  the  foundation  of 
their  head-gear  for  years,  and  frequently  passed  to  the 
daughter  at  the  death  of  the  mother.  At  intervals  they 
were  confided  to  the  care  of  the  straw-bonnet  maker,  the 
prototype  of  the  modern  milliner,  by  whom  they  were  taken 
to  pieces,  cleaned,  and  remodelled  in  the  favourite  form  of 
the  day.  The  advantage  of  the  leghorn  was  that,  besides 
being  much  superior  in  appearance,  it  was  the  only  kind  of 
straw  that  would  stand  the  cleaning,  by  which  process  it  was 
turned  out  as  good  as  new.  A  few  yards  of  ribbon,  arranged 
according  to  the  taste  of  the  wearer,  and  by  which  it  was 
tied  under  the  chin,  was  all  the  expense  incurred  in  the 

While,  therefore,  the  influence  of  the  railway  on  small 
country  towns  and  rural  districts  has  spelt  ruin  to  trade,  and 
has,  for  the  plain,  homely,  frugal  habits  of  the  people,  substi- 
tuted a  more  artificial  style  of  living,  it,  at  the  same  time, 
has  brought  in  its  train  incalculable  advantages  of  an  educa- 
tive and  social  character.  In  this  respect,  it  has  proved  a 

History  of  Sanquhar.  319 

potent  factor  in  the  work  of  civilisation  and  refinement. 
Both  in  the  facilities  which  it  afforded  in  the  dissemination 
of  the  daily  press,  which,  on  the  abolition  of  the  paper  duty, 
was  so  largely  extended,  and  likewise  in  the  numberless  other 
agencies  for  the  public  information  and  instruction,  the  rail- 
way played  an  important  part,  and,  but  for  it,  the  growth  and 
development  of  these  agencies  would  have  been  less  rapid 
and  complete.  There  has  been  an  undoubted  improvement 
in  the  manners  of  the  people,  due  doubtless  to  the  opening 
up  of  the  country  arid  the  closer  inter-communion  of  one 
district  with  another  and  of  class  with  class,  and  the  death  - 
blow  has  been  given  to  many  an  objectionable  feature  of  the 
social  life  of  the  rural  population.  There  is  one  change, 
however,  which  we  cannot  but  regret,  and  has,  by  many  who 
have  studied  the  matter  closely,  been  largely  attributed  to 
this  inter-communion  brought  about  by  the  railway,  viz., 
the  disappearance  to  a  great  extent  of  the  "  characters," 
who  were  to  be  found  in  country  towns — persons  of  strong 
individuality,  of  ready  wit,  or  eccentricity  of  manner. 
Whether  the  railway  and  the  altered  conditions  of 
life  in  which  it  resulted  are  responsible,  as  has  been 
supposed,  for  the  gradual  disappearance  and  threatened 
extinction  of  this  race  of  characters  whose  sayings  and  doings 
gave  a  zest  to  the  life  of  their  neighbours  and  friends,  and 
are  an  interesting  subject  of  study,  will  probably  remain  a 
matter  of  opinion,  but  that  they  are  diminishing  in  number 
is  unquestionable,  and  the  fact  that  this  is  so  renders  tamer 
and  less  interesting  the  daily  ways  of  our  country  people, 
and  is  a  cause  of  regret  to  all  who  interest  themselves  in  the 
study  of  Scottish  life  and  character.  Typical  examples  of 
them  are  to  be  found  in  the  pages  of  Sir  Walter  Scott,  where 
the  peculiarities  of  their  mental  constitution  and  manners 
are  admirably  pourtrayed,  and  where  the  social  life  of  the 
Scottish  people  of  the  olden  time  is  drawn  with  inimitable 
power  and  felicity. 

C  HAPTE  R      I  X. 


H  E  following  is  extracted  from  the  "  History  of  the 
Curling  Society  of  Sanquhar,"  written  by  the 
author  at  the  Society's  request  on  the  occasion  of 
its  centenary,  in  the  year  1874  : — 
The  origin  of  the  Society  is  given  in  a  Minute  of  date  21st 
January,  1774 — "  On  which  day  near  sixty  curlers  met  upon 
Sanquhar  Loch,  and  had  an  agreeable  game  at  curling.  In 
the  evening  they  dined  together  in  the  Duke  of  Queensberry's 
Arms  in  Sanquhar.  After  dinner,  it  was  proposed  that  they 
should  form  themselves  into  a  Society,  under  the  name  of 
the  Sanquhar  Society  of  Curlers,  and  that  a  Master  should 
be  chosen  annually ;  which  proposal  was  agreed  to,  and 
several  other  regulations  respecting  the  constitution  and 
order  of  the  Society  were  made.  Accordingly  one  of 
the  oldest  curlers  being  chosen  preses,  appointed  a  Com- 
mittee of  the  best  qualified  to  examine  all  the  rest 
concerning  the  Curler's  Word  and  Grip.  Those  who  pre- 
tended to  have  these,  and  were  found  defective,  were  sub- 
jected to  a  fine  ;  and  those  who  made  no  pretensions  were 
instructed.  Then  Mr  Alexander  Bradfute,  in  South  Mains, 
was  chosen  Master  for  the  present  year.  The  terms  and 
prices  of  admission  to  the  Society  were — Submission  and 
Obedience  to  the  Master,  discretion  and  civility  to  all  the 
Members,  and  Secrecy  ;  Fourpence  sterling  to  be  paid  by 
every  one  in  the  Parish,  and  Sixpence  to  be  paid  by  any  one 
without  the  Parish  as  their  admission  ;  and  liberty  was 

History  of  SanquJiar.  321 

granted  to  the  Clerk  and  some  other  members  to  add  what- 
ever new  members  were,  and  to  report  those  to  the  Society 
at  their  next  meeting." 

We  do  not  doubt  that  the  game  was  practised  long  before 
this  period  ;  indeed,  it  is  apparent  from  this  very  minute 
that  this  was  so  in  Sanquhar  ;  the  fact  that  in  1774  so  many 
as  sixty  curlers  met  on  the  ice  proves  that  even  then  the 
practice  of  the  game  here  had  already  become  very  general  ; 
and  we  believe  Sanquhar  possesses  perhaps  the  oldest  Society 
in  Scotland,  with  a  recognised  Master  or  Presesand  a  regular 
constitution,  by  which  the  game  was  regularly  and  systema- 
tically practised,  and  having  an  unbroken  history  from 
the  date  of  its  organisation  down  to  the  present  day. 

The  ninth  article  of  the  Constitution — that  "  at  any  play 
among  the  rinks  the  reckoning  not  to  exceed  sixpence  each 
player  " — points  to  a  custom  prevalent  at  one  time  of  meet- 
ing in  the  evening,  in  a  social  capacity,  at  the  end  of  an 
important  play,  such  as  for  the  parish  medal.  In  connection 
with  inter-parochial  games  again,  this  social  entertainment 
took  the  shape  of  a  dinner,  with  a  liberal  supply  of  toddy. 
These  "  Dinners  and  Drinks"  were  for  a  long  time  the  stake 
played  for  between  parishes,  and  were  grand  affairs,  the 
ticket  being  five  shillings.  This  is  a  rather  startling  figure, 
as  money  went  in  these  days,  considering  that  the  members 
of  the  Society  were  for  the  most  part  working  men,  among 
whom  it  was  regarded  as  a  point  of  honour  to  attend  these 
dinners.  Many  were  reduced  to  the  direst  shifts  ;  frequently 
borrowing  had  to  be  resorted  to,  by  way  of  concealing  the 
poor  curler's  poverty  from  all  but  the  lender. 

There  would  appear  to  have  been  something  akin  to  free- 
masonry in  the  Society's  constitution,  for  at  a  very  early 
stage  of  its  history  a  dispute  arose  among  the  members  as  to 
what  was  the  true  Curler  Word  and  Grip,  and  the  Society 
found  it  necessary  to  issue  an  authoritative  declaration  on 
the  subject,  which  is  in  these  terms  : — In  order  to  prevent 
all  dispute  concerning  the  Curler  Word  and  Grip,  the  Master, 


322  History  of  Sanqiihar. 

who  always  is  Preses  during  his  office,  and  the  rest  of  the 
Society,  have  agreed  that  the  following  shall  be  held  and 
reputed  the  Curler  Word  and  Grip  of  this  Society  for  the 
future  : — 


If  you'd  be  a  Curler  keen 

Stand  right,  look  even, 

Sole  well,  shoot  straight,  and  sweep  clean. 


Gripping  hands  in  the  common  manner  of  shaking  hands  is  the  gripping 
the  hand  of  the  curling-stone.  The  thumb  of  the  person  instructed  thrust 
in  betwixt  the  thumb  and  forefinger  of  the  examinator  or  instructor  signi- 
fies "running  a  port."  The  little  finger  of  the  person  examined  or 
instructed  linked  with  the  little  finger  of  the  examinator  or  instructor 
means  an  "  in-ring. " 

Each  member  at  his  admission  to  the  Society  was  initiated 
in  the  mysteries  of  the  Craft,  being  for  this  purpose  conveyed 
upstairs  to  one  of  the  upper  rooms  of  the  Town  Hall.  The 
fees  exacted  from  the  entrants  were,  according  to  the  rules, 
to  go  to  the  funds  of  the  Society.  There  is,  however,  a  note- 
able  instance  in  which  this  rule  was  departed  from,  when  the 
proceeds  had  a  very  different  destination.  Of  date  10th 
December,  1800,  we  have  a  minute  : — "  The  following  were 
admitted  members  of  the  Society  (here  follows  a  list  of 
twenty  names,  which,  however,  we  withhold,  though  we  may 
mention  that  it  includes  the  names  of  the  Provost  and  the 
minister  of  the  parish),  all  of  whom  paid  fourpence  each, 
making  six  shillings  and  eightpence,  which  was  drunk  at 
the  desire  of  the  company."  The  questionableness  of  such  a 
proceeding  is  somewhat  condoned  by  the  candour  and  honesty 
with  which  the  fact  is  recorded. 

The  original  playing  strength  of  the  Society  was  seven 
rinks  of  eight  men  each,  and  a  corps-de-reserve,  presided  over 
by  an  officer  appointed  by  the  Society,  who  was  styled  com- 
mander of  the  corps-de-reserve.  Through  time  the  title 
commander  was  dropped,  and  he  was  styled  shortly,  though 

History  V/  Sanqv.  h  ar.  323 

rather  incorrectly,  the  corps- de-reserve.  From  this  body 
drafts  were  constantly  taken  to  fill  up  blanks  in  the 
regular  rinks  of  those  who  had,  in  this  probationary  service, 
proved  themselves  most  worthy  of  promotion,  and  by  whom 
the  promotion  was  regarded  as  a  proud  distinction.  There 
has  been  no  corps-de-reserve  for  many  years. 

It  was  the  practice,  as  has  been  observed,  for  a  long  time 
— in  all  spiels  between  this  and  neighbouring  parishes — to 
play  for  dinner  and  drink.  The  spiel  consisted  of  two  games 
of  nine  shots  each — the  one  played  for  the  dinner,  and  the 
other  for  the  drink.  In  this  way  it  happened  sometimes 
that  the  dinner  was  won  by  the  one  parish,  and  the  drink 
by  the  other,  but  frequently  the  Sanquhar  curlers  enjoyed 
both  at  their  neighbours'  expense.  The  shortness  of  the 
games,  too,  accounts  for  the  frequency  with  which  certain 
rinks  were  soutered — that  is,  did  not  get  a  single  shot.  In 

a  game  with  a  certain  parish,  it  is  recorded  " got  not  one 

game,  and  but  very  few  shots.  They  were  made  souters  in 
two  rinks,  and  one  shot  only  prevented  the  third  from 
sharing  the  same  fate."  This  practice  continued  down  to  the 
year  1830,  when,  by  a  resolution  of  the  Society,  it  was 
abolished.  At  the  same  time  a  motion  was  carried — "  That 
henceforth  all  parish  spiels  be  decided  by  shots."  Previously 
they  were  decided  by  the  number  of  winning  rinks,  regard- 
less of  the  aggregate  number  of  shots  gained  by  either. 

A  rather  startling  announcement  is  made  in  a  minute  of 
January,  1782,  where  we  are  informed  that  "Walter  M'Turk, 
surgeon,  was  expelled  from  the  Society  for  offering  them  a 

gross  insult,  in  calling  them  a  parcel  of  d d  scoundrels." 

A  very  serious  offence,  no  doubt,  and  demanding,  in  vindica- 
tion of  their  own  self-respect,  the  condemnation  of  the 
Society  ;  but  to  shew  that  in  their  action  they  were  not 
animated  by  vindictiveness,  but  by  a  regard  to  the  interests 
of  good  order  and  public  morality,  and  that  they  were  not 
void  of  the  grace  of  forgiveness — that  they  were  willing  to 
receive  back  to  their  bosom  a  weak  and  erring  but  repentant 

324  History  of  Sanquhar. 

son — it  is  further  recorded,  under  date  17th  December,  1788, 
"  Mr  Walter  M'Turk,  surgeon,  was  this  day  chosen  preses." 
Truly  this  was  a  literal  fulfilment  of  the  saying  in  the  parable, 
"Bring  forth  the  best  robe  and  put  it  on  him,"  and  is  an 
honour  to  the  Christian  spirit  of  the  Society. 

The  first  game  with  a  neighbouring  parish  was  played 
with  Kirkconnel  on  19th  January,  1776,  followed  by  one  on 
the  25th  of  the  same  month  with  Crawfordjolm.  These  two 
were  the  only  parishes  with  which  games  were  played  down 
to  1784,  when  the  first  game  with  Morton  was  played.  Then 
Penpont  is  added  to  the  number  in  1804,  Durisdeer  in  1830, 
and  New  Cumnock  in  1844.  Kirkconnel,  Morton,  Penpont, 
and  New  Cumnock  are  the  parishes  with  which  the  great  has  been  held,  and  in  them 
we  have  truly  found  "foemen  worthy  of  our  steel."  Indeed, 
it  is  a  question  whether  there  be  in  all  Scotland  a  district  of 
similar  extent  to  Nithsdale  where  the  same  number  of  first- 
class  curlers  could  be  found.  Many  a  time  Sanquhar  has 
had  to  lower  her  colours  on  a  well-fought  field,  but  when  the 
balance  of  her  gains  and  losses  has  been  struck,  she  is  found 
fairly  entitled  to  claim  the  pre-eminence  over  all  her  rivals. 

From  the  earliest  period  of  their  history  the  Societies  of 
Sanquhar  and  Wanlockhead  have  been  on  terms  of  the  closest 
friendship.  Although  Wanlockhead  is  situated  within  the 
parish  of  Sauquhar,  the  distance  between  the  two  places,  eight 
miles,  necessarily  led  to  the  formation  of  a  separate  society 
there,  and,  since  1831,  games  between  the  two  have  been  of 
frequent  occurrence.  By  way  of  cultivating  the  friendly 
feeling  that  existed  between  them,  it  became  a  rule  that  these 
matches  should  be  played  at  Sanquhar  and  Wanlockhead  alter- 
nately, contrary  to  the  usual  practice  of  the  losers  going  back 
to  the  ice  of  the  winners.  The  curlers  of  Sanquhar  have  a  deep 
sense  of  obligation  to  those  of  Wanlockhead  for  the  valuable 
aid  they  have  always  been  ready  to  render  in  the  games  with 
the  strong  parish  of  New  Cumnock.  These  games  began  in 
1844.  The  wide  extent  of  the  latter,  a,nd  her  great  command 

History  of  Sanquhar.  325 

of  players,  rendered  the  possibility  of  Sanqubar  competing 
with  her  at  her  full  strength  with  any  prospect  of  success 
extremely  problematical,  and  New  Cumnock  declined  to 
break  her  numbers.  Sanquhar  determined,  however,  to 
make  a  gallant  attempt,  and  while  her  own  enrolled  strength 
was  at  the  time  only  seven  rinks  of  eight  men  each,  she  had 
to  muster  eighteen  rinks  of  nine  men  each.  Every  available 
man  who  could  be  got  who  had  ever  thrown  a  stone,  how- 
ever slight  his  acquaintance  with  the  art,  was  pressed  into 
the  service.  So  urgent,  indeed,  was  the  call  that  some  who 
had  never  even  pla^-^  i  stone  were  taken  on  to  the  ice  the 
previous  evening,  and,  by  the  li^ht  of  the  moon,  received 
their  first  lesson.  The  want  of  stones  was  no  less  severely 
felt  than  the  want  of  men  ;  and  many  a  worker's  "  pace  " 
(stones  which  were  hung  on  the  beam  to  keep  the  Vveb  on 
tl\e  stretch,  to  which  use  old  and  disused  curling-stones  were 
frequently  put),  was  unstrung,  while  others  were  hauled  out 
from  among  the  coals  below  the  bed  (a  common  place  for  the 
storage  of  coal  in  these  days),  their  soles,  it  may  well  be 
conceived,  being  far  from  in  a  good  condition.  With  such 
raw  recruits  and  with  such  weapons,  it  required  no  gift  of 
prophecy  to  predict  the  result.  To  extinguish  the  last  ray 
of  hope  for  Sanquhar,  the  ice  proved  to  be  covered  with 
water,  in  consequence  of  which  the  game  proved  more  a 
match  of  strength  than  of  skill.  The  greater  part  of  the 
Sanquhar  curlers  Avere  "  harried,"  that  is,  could  not  reach 
the  "  tee."  The  victory  for  New  Cumnock  was  most  com- 
plete, only  three  rinks  from  Sauquhar  escaping  the  general 
wreck.  One  rink  was  soutered.  Sanquhar  lost  by  168  shots. 
On  the  next  occasion  the  aid  of  Wanlockhead  was  invoked, 
and  the  result  was  very  different.  The  crushing  majority  of 
the  previous  match  was  reduced  to  twelve,  and  in  184-8  it 
was  converted  into  a  victory  for  Sanquhar  by  two  shots,  since 
which  time  down  to  1867,  when  circumstances  deprived  her 
of  the  help  of  Wanlockhead,  Sanquhar  kept  her  honour 

326  History  of  Sanquhar. 

This  "  foreign  spiel,"  as  it  was  called  at  Wanlockhead,  was 
an  event  which  caused  great  excitement  in  the  village,  and 
does  still.  Up  betimes  in  the  morning,  and  well  breakfasted, 
with  a  comforter  from  "Noble's"  in  the  pocket,  well-trimmed 
besom  in  hand,  and  curling-stone  handles  slung  around  their 
necks,  they  set  forth,  and  from  the  summit  of  Sanquhar 
Muir,  the  usual  place  of  rendezvous,  on  a  hard  crisp  morning, 
the  mist  creeping  gradually  up  the  hillside  and  disappearing 
before  the  rising  sun,  which  was  appearing  like  a  ball  of  fire 
above  the  horizon,  to  see  them  come  in  sight  over  the  distant 
hill  top,  or  come  pouring  down  Glenc'yne  and  Men  nock, 
reminded  one  of  the  scenes  so  graphically  described  by  our 
late  townsman,  Dr  Simpson,  of  the  days  when  the  Covenanters 
were  wont  to  wend  their  way  over  these  same  hills  to  the 
Conventicles  in  some  quiet  moorland  spot.  Arrived  on  the 
ground,  their  opponents  singled  out,  and  the  game  fairly 
started,  they  were  not  long  in  shewing  of  what  stuff  they 
were  made.  Almost  without  exception  tall,  strapping,  young 
men,  strong  and  hardy,  they  were  trained  to  curling  from 
their  youth  up.  Their  discipline,  too,  was  perfect.  At  that 
time,  when  there  were  eight  men  in  a  rink,  this  was  most 
noticeable.  Arranged  three  and  three  on  the  two  sides  of 
the  rink,  they  waited  with  the  greatest  attention  till  the 
stone  was  delivered,  following  it  closely  and  eagerly  in  its 
course;  till,  at  the  call  of  the  skip,  "soop,"  down  came  the 
besoms  like  lightning,  hands  were  clasped,  the  feet  kept  time 
to  the  rapid  strokes,  and  no  exertion  was  spared  till  the 
stone  was  landed  at  the  desired  spot,  when  the  party,  having 
drawn  a  long  breath,  rewarded  the  player  with  the  shout — 
"  Weel  played,  mon." 

In  Kinglake's  "  History  of  the  Crimean  War,"  observation 
is  made  upon  the  different  sounds  that  proceed  from  the 
soldiers  of  different  nations  when  engaged  in  battle.  It  is 
said,  too,  that  in  the  British  army,  the  roar  or  cry  of  regi- 
ments belonging  to  the  different  nationalities  of  which  it  is 
composed — English,  Scotch,  and  Irish — is  as  distinctly 

History  of  Sanquhar.  327 

marked  as  the  characteristics  of  the  different  races.  So,  the 
sound  proceeding  from  a  rink  of  Wanlockhead  curlers  was 
unmistakable,  and  not  to  be  confounded  for  a  moment  with 
any  other.  Better  curlers  than  those  of  Wanlockhead  can 
nowhere  be  found,  and  one  of  their  old  veterans  was  quite 
justified  when,  on  learning  that  those  of  a  neighbouring 
parish,  which  had  been  carrying  all  before  them,  despaired  of 
finding  their  equals  on  this  lower  sphere,  and  had  threatened 
to  challenge  the  moon,  he  drily  remarked — "  Tell  them  to  ca' 
at  Wanlockhead  on  the  road  up."  It  is  probable  that  they 
would  have  been  saved  the  farther  journey. 

There  was  a  group  of  great  curlers,  now  "  a'  wede  awa'/' 
who  in  their  day  were  the  mainstay  of  the  Sanquhar  club, 
and  whose  names  are  still  frequently  mentioned  for  their 
prowess  on  the  ice.  Each  excelled  in  his  own  particular  way. 
Bailie  Hair  was  peerless  for  beautiful  drawing  on  keen  ice  ; 
Blackley,  father  and  son,  were  distinguished  for  their  dashing 
spirited  play;  George  Finglarid  shewed  a  very  graceful  style; 
while  for  skilful  and  crafty  management  of  his  game,  Murdoch 
rarely  met  his  match.  Games  in  these  days  were  contested 
in  a  spirit  of  fierce  determination,  more  after  the  manner  of 
a  deadly  feud  than  of  a  friendly  rivalry.  The  honour  of  the 
parish  was  warmly  cherished,  and  the  result  of  the  day's 
struggle  was  awaited  with  interest  and  concern. by  the  whole 
body  of  the  townspeople.  It  was  the  custom  of  the  late  Mr 
John  Halliday  to  offer  a  shilling  to  the  first  who  should  bring 
from  the  loch  intelligence  of  the  result.  On  a  certain 
occasion  the  Sanquhar  curlers  had  sustained  a  crushing 
defeat,  and  the  fatal  news  was  transmitted  by  telegraph. 
So  indignant  were  the  populace  that  they  were  received  on 
their  arrival  with  a  perfect  storm  of  groans  and  hisses,  and 
next  morning  each  skip  found  that  the  number  of  shots  he 
had  got,  in  most  cases  a  disgracefully  small  number,  had 
overnight  been  chalked  in  huge  characters  on  his  doorpost ; 
while  the  number  of  shots  by  which  the  spiel  had  been  lost 
was  conspicuous  on  the  front  door  of  the  Town  Hall. 

328  History  nf  Fanquhar. 

Many  good  curling  stories  are  still  told,  some  of  them, 
however,  too  rough  to  bear  recording.  One,  however,  of  a 
descriptive  character  may  be  given.  It  was  told  to  the 
author  with  great  pride  by  the  hero  of  the  tale,  the  late  Mi- 
George  Fingland,  and  had  best  be  given  in  his  own  words. 
Referring  to  the  first  great  and  disastrous  game  with  New 
Cumnock,  above  alluded  to,  "I  was,"  said  George,  "in  ane 
of  the  three  rinks  that  wasna  beat.  I  played  seventh  stane 
to  auld  Black.  We  stood  20 — 20,  and  New  Cumnock  lay 
shot  afore  the  tee,  but  no  very  close,  only  it  was  guarded.  It 
was  my  turn  to  play,  and  Black,  after  looking  a'  roun'  the 
tee,  put  doon  his  besom  on  a  spot  exactly  opposite  the  tee, 
and  cried  — %'  George,  d'ye  see  my  besom  V  '  Yes,'  I 
answered.  'Then,'  said  Black,  'if  ye  lie  juist  there,  ye'll  be 
shot.'  Noo  it  was  water  frae  tee  tae  tee,  and  gey  deep  at  the 
ends.  I  had  an  eight-and-thirty  pun'  stane,  a  hidden  grey, 
and  gey  dour.  Craigdarroch  was  playing  wi'  us,  and  he  had  a 
big  birk  besom.  Juist  when  I  Avas  gaun  to  play  he  said — 'Wait 
a  wee,  George,  and  I'll  break  the  water  for  ye.'  He  started 
frae  the  hog,  and  cam'  doon  the  middle  o'  the  rink,  dashing 
the  water  tae  richt  and  left,  and  I  stood  ready.  When  he 
cam'  near  he  cried — 'Noo,  George,'  and  in  a  moment  I  threw 
the  staue  ahint  me,  got  a  gran'  delivery,  and  sent  it  away  a' 
my  micht.  It  gaed  scouring  up  through  the  water,  and 
landed  exactly  opposite  the  tee,  aichteen  inches  gleyt — shot 
— and  game,  for  no'  ane  o'  them  could  pit  it  oot." 



AGRICULTURE   had,  up  to  the  commencement  of 
the  reign  of  Geo.  III.  in  17GO,  made  little  or  no 
progress  in  Scotland.     The  cultivators  of  the  soil 
were  content  to  pursue  the  rude  methods  of  hus- 
u  ban dry  that  had  been  in  vogue  for  centuries,  but 

the  pioneers  of  an  improved  system  were  now  beginning  to 
appear.  Wight,  an  intelligent  farmer  at  Ormiston,  was 
engaged  by  the  Commissioners  for  managing  the  annexed 
estates,  the  extensive  estates,  that  is,  which  were  forfeited 
to  the  Crown  through  the  treason  of  their  owners  in  connec- 
tion with  the  rising  of  '45,  to  enquire  into  the  agricultural 
condition  of  North  Britain  and  report.  His  exhaustive 
report  was  published  in  six  octavo  volumes,  and  in  his  preface 
he  remarks — "  While  the  bulk  of  our  farmers  are  creeping  in 
the  beaten  path  of  miserable  husbandry,  without  knowing 
better,  or  even  wishing  to  know  better,  several  men  of  genius, 
shaking  off  the  fetters  of  custom,  have  traced  out  new  paths 
for  themselves,  and  have  been  successful,  even  beyond 
expectation  ;  but  their  success  has  hitherto  produced  but  few 
imitators  ;  so  far  from  it,  that  among  their  slovenly  neigh- 
bours the  improvers  are  reckoned  giddy-headed  projectors." 
This  is  precisely  the  attitude  taken  up  even  yet  by  the  great 
bulk  of  farmers  towards  every  improvement  or  innovation  on 
the  part  of  the  more  intelligent  and  enterprising  of  their  class. 
We  can  recall,  for  example,  the  deeply-rooted  prejudice  that 
prevailed  at  first  against  the  use  of  artificial  and  chemical 


330  History  of  Sanquhar. 

manures,  when  these  were  used  for  the  production  of  root 
crops,  which  now  play  so  important  a  part  in  the  agriculture 
of  this  district,  enabling  the  tenants  of  arable  farms  to  keep 
an  increased  stock  of  cattle,  and  bring  their  surplus  stock 
into  a  condition  fit  for  the  market,  while  they  serve,  by  pro- 
viding food  for  hill-stocks  in  an  emergency  of  storm  during 
winter,  to  prevent  the  recurrence  of  those  disastrous  losses 
which  in  former  times  were  frequently  suffered  on  purely 
pastoral  farms.  The  introduction,  too,  of  the  reaping  and 
mowing  machines  was  laughed  at  as  a  method  of  reaping 
crops  which  might  do  on  smooth  level  holm  land,  but  which 
would  be  found  utterly  impracticable  in  such  a  district  as 
Upper  Nithsdale,  where  the  bulk  of  the  land  is  so  uneven  on 
the  top  ;  and  yet,  in  spite  of  the  obstinacy  of  ignorance,  on  a 
good  harvest  day  the  merry  ring  of  the  reaper  can  be  heard 
in  all  directions.  Necessity,  it  is  true,  helped  to  overcome 
the  stubbornness  of  farmers — a  necessity  due  to  the  depopu- 
lation of  the  rural  districts,  which  is  accounted  for  towards 
the  close  of  Chapter  VIII. 

The  publication  of  eight  volumes  of  Agricultural  Reports 
by  these  Commissioners  did  infinite  service  to  a  country  that 
was  throwing  off  its  indolence,  and  shewing  some  activity. 
The  good  work  was  helped  by  the  establishment  in  1784  of 
"  The  Highland  Society,"  now  the  "  Highland  and  Agricul- 
tural Society  of  Scotland,"  by  which  country  gentlemen  -had 
their  attention  first  turned  to  the  improvement  of  their  own 
estates ;  and  by  its  keen  interest  in  all  that  pertains  to 
agriculture  and  the  improvement  of  stock,  has  done,  and  is 
doing,  an  incalculable  benefit  to  not  merely  the  farming  class, 
but  to  the  whole  country.  Parliament,  too,  vigorously  con- 
curred, by  the  making  of  roads  in  almost  every  county. 
From  a  Parliamentary  report  of  1821  we  learn,  that  there  had 
been  constructed  1200  miles  of  roads  and  1200  bridges,  the 
large  sum  of  £500,000  having  been  spent  on  these  works. 

Further,  banking,  which  had  been  a  monopoly  in  the  hands 
of  the  Bank  of  Scotland,  was  now  extended  by  the  establish- 

History  of  Sanquhar.  331 

merit,  in  1727,  of  the  Royal  Bank,  and  iu  1747  of  the  British 
Linen  Company,  originally  intended  as  a  manufacturing 
concern,  as  its  name  imports;  but,  the  manufacturing  business 
proving  unprofitable,  it  was  changed  into  a  banking  company. 
The  first  country  bank,  the  Aberdeen  Bank,  appeared  in 
1749,  and  was  followed  by  one  at  Ayr  iu  1763,  and  another 
at  Dumfries  in  1767  ;  but  the  benefits  of  these  institutions 
were  long  delayed,  through  the  refusal  of  the  people  to 
receive  the  notes  of  the  banks.  However,  this  distrust  wa.s 
in  time  overcome,  and  the  people  gradually  awoke  to  see  to 
what  advantage  the  system  of  banking  could  be  turned.  The 
total  circulation  in  Scotland,  which  in  1707  amounted  to 
£920,000  in  all,  had  increased  in  1819  to  £3,400,000. 

In  the  first  half  of  the  eighteenth  century,  the  Duke  of 
Queensberry  was  active  in  the  improvement  of  both  Niths- 
dale  and  Annandale.  Wight,  in  his  report,  says — "  The 
good  this  nobleman  has  done  would  fill  a  volume  to  relate. 
At  his  own  expense  he  opened  a  communication  from  Thorn- 
hill  to  Ayrshire,  by  a  great  road  two  and  twenty  miles  long, 
through  a  hilly  country  by  Sanquhar,  where  coal  and  lime 
abound.  With  coal  Dumfries  town  was  formerly  supplied 
from  England,  and  the  country  with  lime.  Now  all  is  got 
much  cheaper  from  Sanquhar  ;  encouraging  leases  are  given 
to  the  tenants  on  the  Buccleuch  estates  ;  lime  is  afforded 
them  gratis,  as  also  sometimes  grass  seeds,  and  premiums  for 
turnips."  This  illustrious  improver,  as  Chalmers  designates 
him,  Duke  Charles,  died  in  1778,  at  the  age  of  eighty.  In 
addition  to  the  main  road  referred  to,  which  cost  the  Duke 
£1500,  he  also  constructed  a  road  to  Whitecleuch  lime  works 
at  a  cost  of  £300,  and  the  road  to  Wanlockhead  at  a  cost  of 
£600.  The  lime  referred  to  as  abounding  at  Sanquhar  was 
on  Auchengruith  farm,  where  traces  of  the  old  works  are 
still  visible. 

The  valley  of  the  Nith  in  the  upper  part  being  rather 
narrow,  there  is  no  great  amount  of  holm  land,  hence  we  find 
that  attempts  were  made  to  extend  the  area  of  cultivation. 

332  History  of  Sanquhar. 

The  traces  of  the  plough  can,  therefore,  be  discerned  at  the 
very  base  of  the  mountains  on  each  hand,  and  in  some 
instances  well  up  their  sloping  sides.  There  were  two 
reasons  to  account  for  this — First,  that  the  crops  grown  along 
the  bank  of  the  river,  at  a  time  when  the  draining  of  land  had 
not  commenced,  were  very  subject  to  mildew  from  the  damp 
fogs  which  lay  along  the  lower  lands;  and,  again,  these  were 
the  days  of  Protection,  when  the  country  had  to  rely  on  its 
own  resources  for  food  supplies.  The  consequence  was  that 
after  a  bad  harvest  there  was  great  scarcity,  and  bread-stuffs 
reached  almost  to  famine  prices.  As  a  result,  therefore,  of 
the  adoption  of.  a  free  trade  policy,  and  the  consequent 
reduction  of  prices,  it  was  found  that  the  crops  grown  on 
these  uplands,  even  when  they  were  not  in  late  seasons 
rendered  unfit  for  human  food,  could  no  longer  be  grown 
profitably,  and  the  lands  naturally  reverted  to  the  purpose  of 
pasturage,  for  which  nature  manifestly  designed  them. 

Besides,  the  raising  of  straw  for  fodder  was  a  greater 
necessity  in  those  days,  when  there  were  no  green  crops.  It 
was  not  till  the  beginning  of  the  present  century  that  turnips 
were  grown  in  this  locality.  The  system  was  first  introduced 
from  the  lower  parts  of  the  county.  Farmers  were  in  a 
difficulty  to  obtain  the  necessary  manure.  Even  then  the 
value  of  bones,  which  form  the  basis  of  many  of  the  best 
kinds  of  artificial  manures,  was  understood,  and  every  place 
where  they  had  been  accustomed  to  bury  dead  animals,  such 
as  horses  and  cows,  was  ransacked  to  obtain  the  bones, 
which  were  chopped  up  in  the  rudest  fashion  with  axes  and 

William,  the  last  of  the  Drumlanrig  Douglases,  knowing 
that,  through  the  failure  of  the  male  line  of  his  family,  the 
dukedom  would  at  his  death  pass  to  Henry,  the  third  Duke 
of  Buccleuch,  the  heir  in  right  of  his  grandmother,  towards 
whom  he  bore  no  good-will,  resolved  to  do  what  he  could 
to  diminish  the  value  of  the  estates  to  his  successor.  They 
being  strictly  entailed,  he  was  not  at  liberty  under  the  law  to 

History  of  Sanquhar.  333 

mortgage  or  burden  them  in  the  ordinary  way,  but  he  hit  on 
what  he  probably  considered  an  ingenious  expedient  to 
accomplish  his  end.  The  farms  were  let  on  leases  of  a 
definite  duration  at  a  yearly  rent,  representing  their  annual 
value,  which  rent  was  the  whole  obligation  of  the  tenant  to 
his  landlord,  the  usual  system  prevailing  at  the  present  day. 
For  this  he  substituted  another,  according  to  which  the 
farmer  paid  a  slump  sum  down  as  entry  money,  which,  of 
course,  went  into  the  Duke's  pocket,  whereupon  he  was  granted 
a  nineteen  years'  lease  at  a  very  nominal  rent,  and  on  each 
year's  rent  being  paid,  the  nineteen  years'  lease  was  renewed 
as  at  that  date,  so  as  to  secure  that,  die  when  he  might,  his 
successor  should  be  made  to  suffer  so  far  as  he  could  make 
him.  The  farms  were  put  up  for  sale  at  Edinburgh,  and  the 
transactions,  though  manifestly  a  barefaced  evasion  of  the 
law,  were  carried  through.  An  enormous  sum  was  thus 
realised.  On  his  death,  in  1810,  he  was  succeeded,  as  has 
been  said,  by  Henry,  the  third  Duke  of  Buccleuch,  who  was 
then  a  minor,  but  the  management  of  his  Queensberry  estates 
was  placed  in  the  hands  of  a  capable  chamberlain,  the  well- 
known  Major  Crichton,  who  continued  in  office  from  1811  to 
1843.  The  legality  of  the  transactions  above  referred  to  was 
challenged,  and  it  was  soon  ascertained  that  they  were  not 
in  conformity  with  the  law  of  Scotland,  and  steps  were  at 
once  taken  to  put  an  end  to  the  arrangements  under  which 
the  various  tenants  held  their  farms.  This  was  what  was 
called  among  the  people  of  the  district  "  the  breaking  of  the 
tacks,"  and  marked  a  new  era  in  the  agriculture  of  Upper 

The  area  in  cultivation  for  corn  being  so  much  greater  then 
than  it  is  now,  the  harvest  was  the  great  carnival  of  the  year 
in  country  districts.  The  reaping  was  done  by  the  hook,  and 
on  the  larger  farms  there  were  bands  of  reapers  of  from  ten 
to  twenty  in  number,  the  produce  in  some  cases  amounting 
to  five  tons  of  meal.  Turnips  were  at  first  thinned  by  the 
hand,  and,  when  that  operation  was  subsequently  done  with 

334  History  of  Sanquhar. 

the  hoe  by  women,  who  came  from  the  lower  end  of  the 
county,  it  excited  great  interest  among  the  country  folks, 
whose  first  impression  was,  when  they  saw  the  young  plants 
so  roughly  knocked  about,  that  the  crop  would  be  ruined  ; 
but  experience  soon  taught  them  that,  so  far  from  that  being 
the  case,  the  crop  throve  quite  as  well  afterwards,  as  if  it 
had  been  thinned  by  the  hand,  and  the  new  system  was 
rapidly  adopted  as  more  expeditious  than  the  old.  This  was 
during  the  second  decade  of  the  present  century.  Plots  of 
lint  were  cultivated  on  most  farms.  It  was  ripe  before  the 
corn,  and  was  pulled  by  the  hand.  When  the  crop  was  late 
the  fibre  was  coarse,  and  it  was  described  as  "  mair  tow  than 
lint."  It  was  tied  in  sheaves  with  bands  of  "  spret,"  and  put 
up  in  stooks  in  the  field,  whence,  after  it  had  stood  for  a  few 
days,  it  was  taken  and  plunged  into  a  stagnant  pool,  being 
overlaid  with  boards  and  weights  to  keep  it  under  water. 
This  was  called  the  process  of  "  souring."  Having  lain  for 
ten  days  or  a  fortnight,  according  to  the  temperature  of  the 
atmosphere,  it  was  taken  out  and  spread  in  thin  rows  on  dry 
ground.  It  was  then  gathered  into  big  bundles,  and  sent  to 
the  lint  mill.  These  lint  mills  were  scattered  over  the 
country,  at  wide  intervals.  There  was  not  one  in  Upper 
Nithsdale,  and  the  bulk  of  the  lint  was  sent  to  Dunscore. 
The  process  at  the  lint  mill  was  the  separation  of  the  tow 
from  the  lint,  and  the  people  employed  at  these  mills  were 
called  "  hecklers."  The  tow  and  lint  were  sent  home  in 
separate  bundles.  The  lint  was  spun  on  the  wee  wheel, 
which  was  driven  with  the  foot.  This,  with  the  spinning  of 
woollen  yarn  on  the  big  wheel,  was  the  principal  employment 
of  the  women  in  the  winter  evenings.  The  finer  qualities 
were  woven  into  linen  for  napery,  and  the  commoner  sorts 
into  shirting,  by  linen  weavers  who  worked  hand-looms  in 
their  own  homes.  The  good  housewives  took  a  great  pride 
in  the  quantity  and  quality  of  their  napery,  and  also  in  their 
stock  of  blankets — in  having,  in  short,  what  was  called  a 
bien  house. 

History  of  Sanquhar.  335 

About  the  end  of  the  last  and  the  beginning  of  the  pre- 
sent century  it  was  that  the  draining  of  the  land  commenced. 
These  drains  were  not  tile,  but  stone  drains,  for  there  were  no 
tiles  then.  They  were  cut  about  three  feet  deep,  and  filled  up 
to  within  15  or  18  inches  from  the  surface  with  stones,  those 
gathered  off  the  land  during  cultivation  being  used  for  this 
purpose.  Stories  were  also  quarried  for  the  same  end,  and 
rough  gravel  carted  from  the  river  bed  was  likewise  used. 
Drains  of  this  kind  if  carefully  done  were  found  most 
efficient,  and  some,  constructed  60  or  70  years  ago,  are  quite 
good  yet.  Another  description  of  drain  was  cut  very  narrow 
at  the  bottom  with  a  ledge  or  shoulder  on  each  side,  on 
which  the  top  turf  or  sod  was  placed  with  the  green  side 
down,  thus  forming  a  tunnel  along  which  the  water  was 
carried  off.  These  were  called  sod  drains,  and  were  the  kind 
used  in  the  lower  lands  under  cultivation,  but  on  the  hills 
the  drains  were  then  as  now — open.  Draining  of  the  first- 
named  kind  was  necessarily  a  slow  and  expensive  operation, 
and,  unless  very  carefully  done,  did  not  in  many  cases  prove 
a  success.  For  this  reason  no  great  progress  was  for  a  time 
made.  The  invention  of  the  draining  tile,  however,  and  the 
opening  of  communication  by  railway,  which  effected  an 
improvement  in  the  general  trade  of  the  country,  gave  a  fresh 
stimulus  to  farmers,  and,  from  1859  onwards,  immense  tracts 
have  been  rescued  from  a  state  of  nature  and  brought  into 

When  the  use  of  lime  was  conjoined  with  draining 
wonderful  results  were  produced.  The  whole  land  was,  in  a 
sense,  virgin  soil,  and  when  it  had  been  relieved  of  its  excess 
of  moisture  and  warmed  with  a  liberal  dose  of  lime,  the  most 
abundant  crops  were  produced,  and,  what  was  of  import- 
ance in  so  high  a  locality,  harvest  was  reached  earlier  than 
formerly.  The  system  became  almost  universal,  and  the 
interval  of  the  summer  between  seed-time  and  harvest  was 
largely  occupied  in  carting  lime  from  Corsancone  and  Close- 
burn,  the  back  road  over  Corsancone  being  still  termed  the 

336  History  of  Sanqultar. 

"Lime  Road,"  though  it  was  in  a  very  different  condition 
then,  and  many  mishaps  occurred  with  the  lime  carts  when 
the  wheels  went  into  a  hole.  The  system  of  liming  was. 
however,  attempted  to  be  carried  too  far.  On  its  application 
a  second  time  on  the  same  soil,  after  an  interval  of  years,  the 
results  were  disappointing. 

In  some  respects  they  were  worse  than  disappointing  ; 
they  were  disastrous.  In  1835  and  following  years,  land, 
which  had  been  limed  and  cropped  year  after  year  in  succes- 
sion, became  so  loose  that  it  was  picked  up  with  the  grass 
and  eaten  by  the  sheep,  the  consequence  being  rot  on  a  large 
scale,  the  third,  and,  in  some  instances,  the  half  of  an  entire 
stock  perishing.  The  great  bulk  of  the  land  is  pastoral,  and 
many  of  the  farms  are  large,  the  rents  of  several  ranging 
from  £500  to  £1000,  that  of  Clenries  (the  ancient  Cog)  even 
exceeding  the  latter  sum. 

A  sudden  and  rapid  rise  in  the  price  of  agricultural  produce 
took  place  about  forty  years  ago.  It  began  in  1852  with 
cheese.  In  that  year,  cheese,  the  normal  price  of  which  was 
7s  per  stone  of  24  pounds,  went  up  to  14s  and  1 5s,  and  was 
re-sold  by  dealers  in  some  instances  at  no  less  than  a  guinea 
per  stone,  or  10|d  per  Ib.  wholesale.  This  extraordinary  rise 
was  attributable  to  the  large  exports  to  Australia  in  connec- 
tion with  the  newly-discovered  gold  fields,  and  to  the  activity 
of  the  iron  and  coal  industries,  following  on  the  opening  up 
of  the  country  by  the  railways,  which  were  being  rapidly 
extended.  It  next  came  the  turn  of  the  stock  farmers.  In 
1863,  in  consequence  of  the  American  Civil  War,  and  the 
resulting  scarcity  of  cotton,  wool  was  greatly  enhanced  in 
value,  and  prices  went  up  with  a  bound.  In  1864,  Cheviot 
washed  brought  2s  Id  to  2s  2d  per  Ib.;  blackfaced,  unwashed, 
Is  2d  per  Ib.  A  corresponding  upward  movement  took  place 
later  in  the  price  of  sheep,  for  which  there  sprang  up  an 
enormous  demand,  owing  to  the  ravages  of  the  cattle  plague, 
by  which  sheep  were  not  affected.  Hill  lambs,  which  had  in 
preceding  years  averaged,  for  blackfaced  10s,  and  for  Cheviots 

History  of  Sanquhar.  337 

13s  6d,  were  bought  freely  at  the  Sanquhar  July  market  of 
1872  at  £15  to  £17  10s,  and  from  £21  to  £23  respectively 
per  score  ;  while  wool,  which  had  in  the  interval  fallen  to 
about  one-half,  again  returned  to  the  high  level  of  1864. 
The  year  1872,  therefore,  marked  the  flood  tide  of  the  pros- 
perity of  stock  farmers.  These  prosperous  times  continued 
for  several  years,  but  were  followed  by  a  period  of  deep 
depression,  aggravated  by  severe  winters,  from  which  agricul- 
turists are,  however,  again  recovering,  the  winters  being  open, 
and  prices,  although  subject  to  considerable  fluctuations, 
continuing  fairly  good. 

Such  an  era  of  astounding  prosperity  stimulated  the  energy 
and  enterprise  of  what  was  a  naturally  shrewd  and  intelligent 
body  of  farmers,  and  furnished  them  with  abundance  of 
capital.  Some,  no  doubt,  were  content  to  hoard  up  their 
rapidly  amassed  wealth,  but,  generally  speaking,  a  great 
advance  was  noticeable  in  the  treatment  of  the  land  and  the 
methods  of  husbandry  ;  while  increasing  attention  was  given 
to  the  improvement  of  the  breed  of  cattle,  sheep,  and  horses. 
On  the  farms  not  entirely  pastoral,  dairy  farming  is  very 
generally  practised,  together  with  the  raising  of  cattle. 
Originally  we  find  that  the  cattle  in  Nithsdale  were  Gallo- 
ways, but  in  process  of  time  the  Ayrshire  breed  acquired  a 
great  reputation  for  milk-producing  qualities,  and,  Sanquhar 
lying  within  easy  reach  of  Ayrshire,  the  Galloways  were  soon 
displaced  by  their  more  picturesque  rivals.  Greater  attention, 
as  has  been  said,  was  given  to  cattle  breeding,  and  now  several 
of  the  Duke  of  Buccleuch's  tenants  in  Upper  Nithsdale  stand 
in  the  very  front  rank  as  breeders  both  of  cattle  and  sheep. 
A  remarkable  improvement  is  likewise  observable  in  the 
quality  of  the  horses  used  for  agriculture.  These  are  of  the 
Clydesdale  breed,  which  of  late  years  has  attained  a  great 
popularity  both  at  home  and  abroad.  Farmers,  who  are 
frequently  accused  of  being  lacking  in  the  power  of  co- 
operation, have  at  all  events  combined  to  some  purpose  in 
this  direction,  by  the  establishment  of  an  Ayrshire  Herd 


338  History  of  Sanquhar. 

Book  and  a  Clydesdale  Stud  Book,  and  by  the  promotion  of 
agricultural  shows,  in  which  the  Highland  and  Agricultural 
Society  worthily  takes  the  lead.  The  effect  of  these  measures 
has  been,  that  the  cattle  of  all  kinds  to  be  seen  on  our  farms 
are  of  an  altogether  different  stamp  to  what  they  were  in 
former  days.  A  most  profitable  trade  has  been  done  of  late 
years  with  bikers  from  foreign  countries  and  the  British 
Colonies  in  both  cattle  and  horses.  These  buyers,  bent  on 
the  improvement  of  the  native  breeds  or  the  introduction  of 
a  totally  new  breed,  do  not  hesitate  to  give  long  prices  for 
animals  of  an  approved  stamp  and  of  good  pedigree,  so  that 
not  only  are  almost  fabulous  prices  obtained  for  individual 
animals  but  rates  all  round  have  been  raised  and  kept  at  a 
higher  standard. 

In  the  outburst  of  energy  and  enterprise  which  followed 
on  the  great  tide  of  prosperity  above  mentioned,  the  tenants 
on  the  Queensberry  estates  were  encouraged  and  aided  by 
their  landlord — the  late  "good  Duke," — who  died  on  April  16, 
1884,  to  the  great  grief  of  the  whole  people  on  his  vast  estates. 
He  was  worthily  represented  at  this  time  by  his  chamberlain 
the  late  J.  Gilchrist-Clark,  Esq.  of  Speddoch,  under  whose 
administration  most  extensive  improvements  were  made  upon 
the  estate.  Liberal  encouragement  was  given  in  the  drain- 
ing of  the  land,  and  the  farm  steadings  were  improved  and 
equipped  in  such  a  complete  manner  as  to  excite  the  envy 
of  farmers  from  all  quarters  ;  so  that  at  that  time,  both  in 
respect  of  the  reasonable  rents,  the  splendid  accommodation 
for  both  man  and  beast,  and  the  liberal  encouragement  given 
in  every  possible  way,  the  Duke's  tenants  came  to  be  regarded 
as  the  very  aristocracy  of  Scottish  farmers. 

As  an  example  of  the  high  quality  of  the  cattle  of  all  kinds 
on  the  farms  of  some  of  the  more  enterprising  tenants,  it  may 
be  stated,  that,  at  the  displenishing  sale  of  one  of  this  stamp 
held  recently,  the  sum  realised  amounted  to  no  less  than 
ten  years'  rent  of  the  holding. 

History  of  Sauquhar.  339 


Sauquhar  is  one  of  the  two  places  in  Dumfriesshire 
where  coal  is  to  be  found,  the  other  being  Canonbie,  near 
Langholm.  The  Sanquhar  field  appears  from  the  map  of  the 
geological  survey  to  be  in  all  probability  a  continuation  of 
the  greater  Ayrshire  field,  and  reaches  from  Hall  in  the  west 
of  Kirk  con  net  parish  to  a  point  on  the  farm  of  Ryehill,  a 
little  east  of  Sanquhar,  where  it  finally  crops  out.  The  total 
area  of  the  Sanquhar  coal-field  is  nearly  30  square  miles.  It 
cannot  be  definitely  fixed  when  the  working  of  the  coal  at 
Sanquhar  first  began,  but  it  certainly  has  been  conducted  for 
a  very  lengthened  period  of  time.  Reference  will  be  found 
in  the  chapter  on  the  Crichton  family  in  connection  with 
Sanquhar  Castle  to  the  fact  that  the  lime  in  the  walls  bears 
indubitable  proof  that  coal  had  been  worked  in  the  parish  at 
the  time  of  its  building.  That  carries  us  back  for  a  period  of 
seven  hundred  years.  Additional  proof  is  forthcoming  in  the 
writings  of  Sir  Walter  Scott,  no  mean  authority  on  all  such 
matters  of  history,  for  in  "  Guy  Mannering,"  the  story  of 
which  is  laid  in  the  eighteenth  century,  Dandie  Dinmont, 
observing  the  repugnance  of  Bertram  to  commit  himself  to 
Mrs  M'Guffog's  sheets,  agreed  that  he  had  good  reason,  for 
"'Od,"  said  he,  "this  bed  looks  as  if  a'  the  colliers  in 
Sanquhar  had  been  in't  thegither." 

The  surface  of  the  ground  in  the  district  being  of  an 
undulating  character,  and  upthrows  and  downthrows  being 
an  unfortunate  characteristic  of  the  field,  the  coal  reveals  its 
presence  in  many  quarters.  It  is  frequently  to  be  found  not 
far  from  the  surface,  and  consequently  runs  out  on  the  face 
of  a  cliff  or  brae.  The  first  attempts  at  mining  were  naturally 
of  the  simplest  and  most  primitive  kind,  consisting  of  a  drift 
or  level  carried  in  where  the  coal  thus  shewed  itself.  By  this 
opening,  the  miners  obtained  access  to  the  coal,  and  through 
it  the  mineral  was  drawn  out  and  the  water  drained  off. 
lu  truth,  it  was  the  only  opening  into  the  workings.  Exam- 

340  History  of  Sanquhar. 

pies  of  this  method  of  mining,  as  it  was  formerly  practised, 
are  to  be  seen  in  various  directions.  A.  level  of  this  descrip- 
tion, called  among  miners  here  an  "  ingaun-e'e,"  is  to  be  seen 
at  Brandleys,  the  coals  there  being  probably  sought  after  for 
the  burning  of  the  lime  on  Auchengruith,  to  which  reference 
is  made  by  Chalmers,  in  "  Caledonia,"  as  having  been  at  that 
time  the  principal  source  of  supply  of  lime  for  Upper  Niths- 
dale.  It  is  likewise  a  tradition  that,  when  the  burning  of 
lime  first  began  at  Corsancone,  the  kilns  were  supplied  with 
coal  obtained  by  the  same  method  of  working  at  Lagrae 
Burn,  two  miles  west  of  Kirkconnel. 

A  level  has  also  been  driven  in  from  below  the  old 
Sanquhar  Castle,  and  further  west,  at  the  upper  end 
of  the  Braeheads,  close  to  the  site  of  the  old  bridge,  for 
reaching  the  coal  in  the  ground  between  the  town  and  the 
river.  In  process  of  time,  and  through  the  greater  demand 
for,  and  consequently  increased  value  of  coal,  more  systematic 
means  were  adopted  for  working  it.  The  proprietors  on  the 
north-east  side  of  the  town,  concluding  that  the  same  seam 
that  had  been  found  on  the  south  side  extended  under  their 
properties,  commenced  to  exploit,  and  the  ground  lying 
between  the  town  and  the  common-land  is  dotted  all  over  with 
the  traces  of  disused  shafts,  each  with  its  heap  of  debris  greater 
or  less.  But  the  visions  of  wealth  which  rose  in  the  minds  of  the 
many  small  proprietors  who  owned  this  land  were  doomed  to 
disappointment.  The  vagaries  of  the  coal  here  are  of  a  most 
tantalising  character.  No  sooner  was  the  seam  reached,  and 
operations  begun  with  the  fairest  of  prospects,  than  a  hitch 
occurred,  and  the  coal  was  lost,  or  else  water  was  encountered, 
and  the  workings  were  speedily  flooded.  In  most  cases,  these 
pits  were  owned  by  persons  who  had  no  practical  knowledge 
of  mining;  in  truth,  mining  engineering  was  then  in  its 
infancy,  and  they  were  utterly  helpless  in  the  presence  of  such 
difficulties.  Nor,  though  they  had  been  gifted  with  the  requi- 
site knowledge,  did  they  possess  the  necessary  capital.  Besides, 
it  is  clear  from  what  is  now  known  of  the  character  of  the 

History  of  Sanquhar.  34 1 

seam  in  this  locality  that  a  large  outlay  of  capital  would  not 
have  been  justified.  The  seam  at  its  best  was  a  poor  one, 
not  being  over  three  feet  in  thickness,  and  full  of  steps  or 
hitches.  The  dreams  of  wealth  which  filled  the  brains  of 
proprietors  and  exploiters  alike  proved  nothing  but  dreams, 
and  the  result  was  that  these  numerous  attempts  did  more 
to  empty  than  to  fill  their  pockets. 

The  connection  of  the  Town  Council  with  coal  mining  will 
be  found  described  in  the  municipal  chapter.  As  will  be  seen 
therein,  a  lease  of  the  coal  in  that  portion  of  the  Common 
lying  contiguous  to  Crawick  was  granted  by  the  Town 
Council  to  Mr  M'Nab  of  The  Holm,  and  a  considerable 
revenue  was  derived  from  this  source  for  a  few  years,  but  the 
workable  coal  was  speedily  exhausted,  and  further  operations 
proving  unremunerative,  owing  to  the  causes  mentioned, 
they  were  ultimately  abandoned.  Of  the  coal  worked  by 
M'Nab,  it  is  said,  in  the  "  Statistical  Account,"  that  "  in  the 
seam  under  the  bed  of  the  river,  and  to  some  distance  on 
each  side,  there  were  thousands  of  bodies  resembling  fishes 
of  different  kinds,  and  varying  in  size,  having  heads,  tails, 
fins,  and  scales,  lying  in  all  different  ways."  These,  of  coursej 
are  specimens  of  the  fossilized  remains  of  animals  so  fre- 
quently found  in  the  coal  measures.  "  Impressions  of  shells, 
and  of  several  vegetable  substances,  are  met  with,  both  in  the 
coals  and  in  the  metals  lying  above  it." 

Professor  Jameson,  at  page  89  of  his  "  Mineralogy  of 
Dumfriesshire,"  says  "  that  a  little  above  Crawick  Bridge 
there  are  examples  of  columnar  glance  coal,  which  in  some 
places  is  seen  passing  into  graphite  or  black  lead." 

Better  results  had  been  meanwhile  obtained,  however,  in 
the  neighbouring  parish  of  Kirkconnel,  further  west,  and 
nearer  to  Ayrshire.  The  Duke  of  Buccleuch  granted  a  lease 
of  the  minerals  in  his  lands  to  the  late  Mr  Barker,  White- 
hill,  by  whom  operations  were  carried  on  in  various  quarters. 
He  sunk  shafts  on  the  lands  of  Heuksland,  which  His  Grace 
acquired  at  the  division  of  the  town  lands  in  1830.  and  on 

History  of  Sanqukar. 

Lawers  Braes,  above  Crawick  Mill,  the  lease  of  which  the 
Duke  acquired  at  M'Nab's  death.  He  worked  also  at 
Quarry  lands,  above  Whitehill,  at  the  Libry  Moor,  and  at 
Damhead,  on  Knockenjig.  At  the  last-named  place,  where 
a  pit  was  sunk,  he  put  on  pumps  to  draw  the  water  from  the 
workings.  These  pumps  were  worked  by  a  water-wheel, 
which  in  turn  was  driven  by  water  from  the  river  Nith. 
The  adage  that  water  like  fire  is  a  good  servant,  but  a  bad 
master,  received  abundant  illustration  here,  for,  in  time  of 
flood,  the  dam-head,  raised  to  divert  the  water  into  the 
required  course,  was  carried  away  three  times.  As  often 
as  this  occurred,  as  often  was  the  damage  made  good  ;  but 
the  danger  which  was  to  prove  fatal  to  the  whole  under- 
taking lurked  in  another  and  quite  a  different  quarter.  One 
day  an  old  miner,  by  name  James  Lachlison,  when  engaged 
at  work,  struck  the  fatal  stroke,  the  result  of  which  was  that 
an  immense  flood  of  water  poured  into  the  workings,  and  ulti- 
mately filled  the  shaft  up  to  the  very  mouth.  This  put  an 
effectual  stop  to  all  proceedings ;  the  river  was  left  to  work  its 
sweet  will  on  the  damhead,  which  it  in  course  of  time  swept 
away,  and  the  wide  open  drain,  by  which  the  water,  after 
passing  over  the  wheel,  was  restored  to  the  river,  became  the 
course  by  which  the  water  overflowing  from  the  pit  mouth  found 
its  way  to  the  same  destination.  A  singular  occurrence  took 
place  many  years  afterwards  when  the  Misses  Whigham, 
who  had  then  become  the  Duke's  mineral  tenants,  were 
sinking  the  first  shaft  at  Gateside.  An  old  man,  David 
Muir,  who  resided  at  Damhead,  reported  to  the  manager  one 
morning  that  his  well,  which  was  supplied  by  this  water, 
was  going  dry.  The  manager  was  alarmed,  the  gravest  fears 
being  entertained  that  at  Gateside  they  had  tapped  this  same 
underground  water-course,  and  that  similarly  disastrous 
results  might  ensue  as  had  already  been  experienced  at 
Damhead.  Capital,  however,  was  available,  and  engineering- 
resources  were  greater  then  than  in  the  olden  time.  Larger 
pumps  were  substituted,  and  greater  steam-power  provided, 

History  of  Sanquhar.  343 

the  result  being  that  the  water  was  effectually  kept  in  check. 
The  manager's  conjecture  proved  correct,  for  from  that  time 
the  workings  at  Damhead  were  gradually  drained  dry,  and 
have  so  remained  ever  since. 

Prior  to  the  sinking  of  the  first  Gateside  pit,  the  coal  had 
been  worked  at  Drumbuie,  on  the  opposite  side  of  the  river, 
for  20  or  30  years,  by  a  day  level.  So  accessible  was  the 
coal  here,  that  the  cutting  of  this  drift  by  which  it  was 
reached  cost  only  the  trifling  sum  of  £5.  The  seam  was  only 
twelve  feet  below  the  surface,  and  the  level  relieved  the 
whole  workings  of  water.  On  Drumbuie  Holm,  lying  nearer 
the  river,  a  pit  was  subsequently  sunk,  and  an  engine 
provided,  in  order  to  catch  the  same  seam  which  here  was 
thrown  down  by  a  step.  Several  pits  had  likewise  been  sunk 
on  the  same  side  of  the  river  at  Burnfoot,  and  these  were 
worked  by  a  Mining  Company  from  Wanlockhead. 

The  sinking  of  the  first  pit  on  Gateside,  already  referred 
to,  took  place  in  1848,  after  careful  borings  had  been  made. 
The  coal  is  of  a  good  household  type,  and  consists  of  one 
seam  of  three  feet  in  thickness,  lying  twenty  fathoms  from  the 
surface,  and  another  of  three  feet  seven  inches,  six  fathoms 
lower.  The  natural  dip  of  the  coal  in  the  Sanquhar  field  is 
towards  the  north-east.  When  this  pit  was  sunk,  the  Glasgow 
and  South-Western  Railway  was  in  process  of  construction. 
The  railway  was  opened  in  1850.  This  marked  a  new  era  in 
the  coal  trade,  by  the  facilities  of  transit  which  were  thus 
provided.  Before  this  period  a  large  trade  was  done  in  the 
surrounding  district,  particularly  towards  the  south,  carts 
having  actually  come  from  Lochmaben,  Dumfries,  and 
even  further  down  the  country.  At  the  pits  the  coal 
was  sold  at  5s  per  ton,  and  to  meet  the  demand,  C.  G. 
Stuart-Menteath,  Esq.  of  Closeburn,  kept  at  Sanquhar 
a  depot  for  coal,  which  he  brought  in  considerable 
quantity  in  waggons  from  his  estate  of  Mansfield, 
in  the  parish  of  New  Cumnock,  a  distance  of  about  eleven 
miles.  The  average  quantity  sold  annually  at  Sanquhar  at 

344  History  of  Sanquhar. 

that  time  (1841)  was  about  16,000  tons.  This  coal  traffic 
was  continuous  throughout  the  year,  unless  at  those  excep- 
tional times  during  the  winter  when  the  roads  were  blocked 
with  snow,  and,  as  can  readily  be  understood,  contributed 
not  a  little  to  the  trade  of  the  town  of  Sanquhar.  The  long 
distances  from  which  many  of  these  carts  came  caused  an 
over-night  rest  to  be  taken,  the  practice  being  to  leave  their 
homes  early  in  the  morning,  load  at  the  pit,  and  draw  the 
coals  to  Sanquhar,  where  alone  accommodation  could  be 
obtained,  and  there  remain  till  next  morning,  when  the 
homeward  journey  was  resumed.  This  trade,  though  consider- 
able throughout  the  year,  was  largely  increased  at  a  certain 
period  of  the  summer.  In  the  interval  between  the  planting 
of  potatoes  and  the  hay-harvest,  or  between  the  hay  and 
grain  harvests,  when  there  was  a  lull  in  out-door  farm  work, 
the  opportunity  was  taken  by  farmers  to  make  repeated 
journeys  to  the  "  coal-heugh,"  and  lay  in  a  stock  of  fuel 
sufficient  to  carry  them  through  the  winter.  Further,  the 
volume  of  trade  was  increased  still  more  at  this  season  by 
the  carting  of  smithy  coals.  It  was  an  old-established 
custom  for  country  blacksmiths  to  lay  in  a  whole  year's 
supply  of  coals  at  this  season,  and  each  farmer  was  expected 
to  assist  in  carting  the  supply  of  coals  for  the  smithy  where 
he  got  his  work  done.  In  those  days  the  country  blacksmith's 
trade  was  greater  than  it  is  now  :  the  area  of  cultivation  was 
wider  on  many  farms,  more  horses  had  to  be  kept,  arid  this 
increased  the  work  of  the  blacksmith.  The  quantity  of  coals, 
therefore,  consumed  in  some  of  these  country  smithies  was 
very  considerable,  amounting  in  some  instances  to  forty  carts 
a  year.  The  occasion,  when  this  addition  was  made  to  the 
daily  traffic  of  the  coal -carts,  made  quite  a  stir  in  the  old 
town,  which  was  almost  taken  possession  of.  The  carts  were 
drawn  up  in  line  on  each  side  of  the  street,  and  have  been 
known  to  stretch  in  a  double  line  from  the  Town  Hall  to  the 
Corseburn,  which  would  have  formed  a  single  line  nearly 
half-a-mile  in  length.  In  another  chapter  attention  is 

History  of  Sanquhar.  345 

directed  to  the  predatory  habits  in  early  times  of  the  tribes 
who  inhabited  this  border  county — habits  which  were  not 
readily  reformed,  but  were  transmitted  to  their  descendants. 
The  presence  of  this  long  array  of  coal-carts  at  their  very 
doors  offered  the  opportunity  of  convenient  plunder  which 
was  too  tempting  to  be  resisted.  The  journey  made  by  these 
coal-carts  being  in  many  cases  a  long  one,  the  loads  were 
made  as  large  as  the  capacity  of  the  cart  would  admit  of,  and 
so  it  was  the  practice,  when  the  box  of  the  cart  was  full,  to 
put  what  are  called  "  setters,"  consisting  of  large  lumps  of 
coal  laid  round  the  edge  of  the  cart,  which  kept  the  smaller 
coals  piled  up  on  the  top  from  rolling  off.  The  same  method 
is  employed  in  loading  railway  waggons,  and  is  called  "  trim- 
ming." It  was  upon  the  setters,  then,  that  the  covetous  eyes 
of  these  midnight  prowlers  were  cast,  and  frequently  the 
carts  were  stripped  in  a  disgraceful  manner. 

The  pit  at  Gateside  was  at  a  little  distance  on  the  upper 
side  of  the  railway,  and  the  coals  for  transit  by  rail  were 
run  down  an  incline  to  the  waggons,  the  loaded  hutches 
drawing  the  empty  ones  back.  Some  years  afterwards  a 
new  shaft  was  sunk,  a  few  hundred  yards  east,  and  quite 
close  to  the  railway,  the  coal  being  now  loaded  from  the  pit 
bank  direct  into  the  waggons.  The  site  of  this  shaft  being 
in  a  hollow  near  Gateside  Cleuch,  the  two  seams  of  coal  were 
found  each  six  fathoms  nearer  the  surface.  This  pit  is  still 
in  operation,  and  affords  a  good  supply  of  household  coal. 

Of  late  years,  however,  the  Gateside  seam  has  shewn  signs 
of  being  worked  out,  and  boring  operations  were  com- 
menced by  Mr  M'Connel,  the  present  lessee,  between  the 
Bankhead  and  Gateside  pits.  The  result  was  highly  success- 
ful, and  proved  the  presence  of  a  seam  of  house  coal  at  a 
little  over  twenty  fathoms,  and  another  of  fine  splint. 
Successive  bores  were  put  down  to  prove  the  extent  of  the 
field,  and  these  seams  were  found  to  stretch  all  over  the  low 
lands  along  the  north  bank  of  the  river.  It  was  thereupon 
resolved  to  sink  a  new  shaft  at  Gateside,  close  to  the  railway, 


346  History  of  SanquJtar. 

and  only  a  little  distance  east  of  the  present  pit,  fitted  with 
the  best  and  most  modern  engineering  plant.  The  first  sod 
was  cut  in  March  last,  and  sinking  has  gone  on  day  and  night 
since  that  time,  the  expectation  being  that  the  work  will 
finish  in  October.  The  first  seam  is  twenty-six  fathoms 
down,  and  consists  of  three  feet  of  house  coal  of  a  better 
quality  than  any  ever  previously  worked  in  the  Sanquhar 
district  ;  and  at  fifty-eight  fathoms,  there  lies  the  splendid 
five  feet  seam  of  splint  coal  of  the  same  excellent  quality  as 
Bankhead.  A  powerful  winding-engine,  of  the  horizontal 
coupled  pattern,  has  been  erected,  and  also  a  compound 
horizontal  tandem-geared  pumping  engine,  capable  of  raising 
over  one  and  a  half  million  gallons  of  water  every  twenty- 
four  hours. 

In  the  pit  already  mentioned  as  having  been  put  down  at 
Drambuie  holm,  the  coal  was  found  at  eleven  fathoms,  and 
for  years  proved  productive,  but  the  supply  became  exhausted. 
The  old  river-course  referred  to  in  the  geological  survey 
was  encountered,  and  the  coal  there  appeared  to  have 
been  washed  away.  Boring  was  then  commenced  on  the 
opposite  side  of  the  river  Nith  on  the  farm  of  Bankhead, 
in  the  hope  of  recovering  touch  with  the  same  seam.  The 
search  was  successful  ;  the  coal  was  reached  at  33  fathoms, 
and  a  shaft  was  immediately  sunk  close  to  the  railway.  This 
was  in  the  year  1857.  The  seam  is  four  feet  six  inches 
thick,  and  is  exceptionally  fine  splint.  Its  value  as  a  steam- 
coal,  for  which  the  demand  was  year  by  year  rapidly  increas- 
ing, owing  to  the  extended  use  of  steam  in  various  forms  of 
industry  as  well  as  in  the  continually  enlarging  railway 
system  of  the  country,  was  early  recognised,  and  a  good  trade 
sprang  up  from  various  quarters. 

A  great  impetus  was  given  to  the  trade  of  this  colliery  in 
1872  co-incident  with  the  improvement  of  the  railway  service 
between  England  and  Scotland,  when  quick  trains  were  put 
on  the  road.  Locomotives  of  an  improved  description  were 
constructed,  designed  to  do  the  journey  between  London  and 

History  of  Sanquhar.  34-7 

Scotland  in  a  much  shorter  period  of  time  than  hitherto,  and 
farther,  the  system  of  express  trains  was  being  more  and  more 
introduced  on  all  railways ;  the  quality  of  the  coal  for  the 
locomotives  became,  in  consequence,  a  matter  of  greater 
moment  than  ever.  The  Bank  head  coal  stood  the  severest 
tests,  and  established  itself  as  second  to  none  in  Scotland  for 
raising  steam,  and  was  found  exceptionally  free  from  "clinker- 
ing  "  on  the  furnace  bars,  which,  when  it  occurred,  was  the 
occasion  of  both  trouble  and  delay.  All  the  fast  trains  on 
the  Glasgow  &  South- Western  Railway  are  now  coaled  from 
Bankhead  ;  in  fact,  that  company  consumes  the  greater  part 
of  the  whole  output. 

Recently  the  Bankhead  coal  has  been  sold  for  the  purpose 
of  gas  making.  Fi-om  the  first  it  had  been  used  by  the 
Sanquhar  Gas  Company,  but  only  for  fuel.  In  course  of 
time,  the  Company  tried  it  in  the  retorts,  in  the  hope  of 
improving  the  quality  of  coke.  The  result  was  eminently 
satisfactory,  for  the  whole  body  of  the  coke  was  converted 
into  excellent  fuel.  It  was  observed  at  the  same  time  that 
neither  the  quantity  nor  the  quality  of  the  gas  produced  was 
affected  to  any  appreciable  degree,  and  the  possibility  of  a 
considerable  saving  in  cost  thus  came  into  view.  Experi- 
ments were  made  with  the  Bankhead  coal  alone,  and  the 
results  exceeded  all  anticipation.  They  shewed  that  this  was 
a  coal  containing  a  fair  quantity  of  gas  of  good  illuminating 
power,  and  exceptionally  useful,  by  reason  of  the  very  fine 
coke  left  after  the  gas  had  been  extracted.  A  report  was 
made  to  the  proprietor,  who  was  recommended  to  have  the 
coal  tested  by  an  expert.  This  was  done,  and  the  analysis 
shewed,  as  was  to  be  expected,  an  even  higher  quantity  of 
gas  per  ton  than  that  obtained  in  a  small  work  like  Sanquhar. 
Steps  were  thereupon  taken  to  place  the  coal  on  the  market, 
and  already  a  considerable  and  steadily  increasing  trade  is 
being  done  with  gas  companies. 

Since  the  early  part  of  the  century,  a  pit  has  likewise  been 
worked  on  the  farm  of  Nethercairn,  on  the  south  side  of  the 

348  History  of  Sanqukar. 

river,  and  two  miles  west  of  Kirkconnel.  Both  household 
and  smithy  coal  are  obtained  here,  but  the  working  of  the 
former  has  for  many  years  been  abandoned,  the  distance  from 
the  railway,  and  the  thin  population  of  the  district  rendering 
sales  difficult,  and  particularly  after  the  opening  of  the  other 
pits  in  more  accessible  positions.  The  smithy  coal,  which 
cannot  be  obtained  elsewhere  in  the  neighbourhood,  is  still 
worked,  but  that  only  at  certain  seasons,  when  a  few  men 
can  put  out  in  a  short  time  as  much  as  will  meet  the  whole 
year's  demand. 

The  following  description  of  the  Sanquhar  coal  field  is 
taken  from  the  Memoirs  of  the  Geological  Survey  : — 

"The  district  lies  wholly  within  the  Silurian  uplands.  In  tracing  their 
outlines  we  soon  learn  that  the  Carboniferous  rocks  have  been  deposited  in 
ancient  hollows  or  valleys,  which,  worn  out  of  the  Silurian  rocks  in  paleo- 
zoic times,  were  afterwards  filled  up  with  Carboniferous  and  Permian 
deposits,  and  in  long-subsequent  ages  were  re-excavated,  so  as  now  to  pre- 
sent the  form  of  valleys  and  hollows  once  more.  In  the  course  of  this  pro- 
tracted denudation  so  much  of  the  original  Carboniferous  and  Permian 
covering  has  been  removed  that  only  fragments  of  it  are  now  left ;  while 
the  Silurian  floor,  on  which  it  was  laid  down,  has  been  everywhere,  and 
often  deeply  eroded.  Enough,  however,  remains  to  show  us  that  what  is 
now  the  valley  of  the  Nith  was  also  a  valley  in  Carboniferous  times,  and 
that  somewhere  about  the  site  of  Kirkconnel  lay  the  head  of  this  valley  in 
the  form  of  a  col,  from  which  the  ground  descended  northward,  with  pro- 
bably an  abrupt  slope,  into  Ayrshire.  In  proof  of  this  statement,  we  find 
that,  in  ascending  the  Nith  valley,  the  Carboniferous  Limestone  series, 
which  is  so  well  developed  in  the  Thornhill  basin,  thins  out  towards  the 
north,  until,  along  the  south-eastern  borders  of  the  Sanquhar  coal-field, 
it  disappears  altogether,  and  the  overlying  Coal- Measures  come  to  rest 
directly  on  the  Lower  Silurian  rocks.  No  Carboniferous  Limestone  beds 
reappear  until  we  reach  the  great  fault,  immediately  on  the  north  side  of 
which  they  come  in  in  force.  It  is  difficult  to  understand  how  this  should 
have  happened,  unless  on  the  supposition  that,  at  the  time  when  the 
Carboniferous  Limestone  series  was  in  the  act  of  deposition,  the  line  of 
fault  was  represented  at  the  surface  by  a  steep  bank  shelving  to  the  north, 
which  formed  the  limit  of  the  Limestone  series  on  that  side,  but  which,  as 
the  whole  regions  continued  to  sink,  was  gradually  buried  under  the 
continuous  sheet  of  Coal-Measures  which  stretched  through  the  San- 
quhar valley  northwards  into  Ayrshire. 

Of  the  remaining  fragments  of  the  Carboniferous  deposits  once  laid  down 
within  the  Silurian  area,  the  largest  and  most  important  forms  the 

History  of  Sanquhar. 


Sanquhar  coal  field.  As  shown  on  the  map,  this  area  covers  a  part  of  the 
Nith  valley,  about  nine  miles  long,  and  from  two  and  a  half  to  four  miles 
broad,  with  the  river  flowing  down  its  centre.  On  the  left  bank  of  the 
Nith  the  boundary  of  the  coal  field  is  formed  by  a  long  and  powerful  fault, 
while  on  the  other  hand  the  edge  of  the  field  is  defined  by  the  line  of  the 
out-crop  of  the  lowest  bed  of  the  Coal  Measures  upon  the  Silurian 
rocks.  At  the  south-eastern  end  of  the  field  several  small  outlying  patches 
of  the  Carboniferous  Limestone  series  occur.  They  consist,  at  the  base, 
of  fine  conglomerate,  covered  by  sandstones,  shales,  and  thin  con- 
cretionary fossiliferous  limestones.  Af  Brandleys  a  portion  of  the  same 
rocks  is  seen  passing  underneath  the  Coal  Measures,  whence  it  may  be 
inferred  that  only  the  upper  part  of  the  Carboniferous  Limestone  series  is 
here  represented. 

The  Sanquhar  coal  field  is  entirely  made  up  of  strata  belonging  to  the 
true  Coal  Measures.  Although  it  has  not  yet  been  possible  to  identify 
many  of  the  coal  seams  of  this  field  with  those  in  the  neighbouring  district 
of  New  Cumnock,  yet,  from  the  general  resemblance  of  the  other  strata  in 
the  two  coal-fields,  there  can  be  little  doubt  that  they  have  at  one  time 
been  connected,  and  therefore  that  the  Sanquhar  coal-field  is  only  a  pro- 
longation of  the  Ayrshire  Coal  Measures. 







Creepie  Coal 








Calmstone  Coal    ... 




Strata     ... 




Twenty-inch  Coal 





.       40 



*  Daugh  Coal 





.  50-60 



Splint  Coal 





.       16 



Coal             -v 












Strata      |  Swallow-Cralg  Coals      6 







Strata     J 




Position  of  (Slatey)  Black-band 


*[NoTE. — With  reference  to  the  Daugh  Coal  mentioned  in  the  above  table, 
recent  researches  made  by  Mr  Russell,  manager  of  the  works,  have  proved 
the  supposed  existence  of  this  coal  to  be  an  error.  This  is  to  be  explained 
by  the  fact  that,  in  the  eastern  part  of  the  field,  the  splint,  and  in  the 
western  part,  the  creepie,  has  been  mistaken  for  this  daugh  seam.  This 
makes  the  ninety  fathom  fault  referred  to  on  page  350  only  half  that 

350  History  of  Sanquhar. 

On  the  north-east  side  of  the  field  lies  a  portion  of  the  upper  barren  red- 
sandstones,  which,  here,  as  in  Ayrshire,  overlap  the  older  portions  of  the 
Carboniferous  system.  The  interval  between  their  deposition  and  that  of 
the  highest  part  of  the  underlying  coal-measures  is  further  shown  by  the 
fact  that  at  one  place,  near  Bankhead,  they  actually  spread  over  a  fault  in 
the  coal-measures  of  ninety  fathoms  without  being  themselves  disturbed* 
Yet,  that  these  red  sandstones  are  of  Carboniferous,  and  not  of  later  age,  is 
indicated  by  the  occurrence  in  them  of  at  least  two  coal-seams  (one  of 
which  is  two  feet  thick),  and  one  of  black-band  ironstone,  which  are  seen 
in  the  stream  near  Kirkland.  Overlying  the  red  sandstones  at  the  south- 
east end  of  the  field  are  three  small  outliers  of  melaphyre,  which,  from 
their  position  and  their  petrographical  character,  must  be  placed  on  the 
same  horizon  with  the  Permian  volcanic  rocks  of  the  Carron  water,  and 
with  the  corresponding  Permian  volcanic  rocks  of  Ayrshire.  They  are 
mere  fragments  of  lava  flows  ;  and  some  of  the  points  of  eruption  from 
which  they  were  ejected  are  still  visible  in  the  necks  of  agglomerate  which 
rise  through  the  coal-field. 

Of  the  faults  by  which  the  Sanquhar  coal-field  is  bounded  and  inter- 
sected, by  far  the  largest  is  that  which  has  let  down  the  coal-field  on  the 
north-east  side  against  the  Silurian  rocks.  From  the  depth  of  coal- 
measures  which  it  throws  out  at  the  north-east  or  deepest  part  of  the  field, 
it  must  be  one  of  at  least  1200  feet.  Its  most  singular  feature,  perhaps,  is 
the  remarkable  bend  which  it  makes  when,  in  proceeding  to  the  north-west, 
it  approaches  within  less  than  fifty  yards  of  the  great  boundary  fault. 
Instead  of  touching  that  dislocation,  it  turns  off  sharply  to  the  left,  and 
runs  parallel  with  it  for  two  miles,  the  space  between  the  two  faults  being 
sometimes  not  more  than  twenty  yards.  The  Hue  of  the  fault  is  made 
conspicuous  even  at  the  surface  from  the  fact  of  its  having  been  taken  by 
a  massive  dolerite  dyke  which  extends  along  the  fault  for  several  miles  011 
both  sides  of  the  angle.  About  a  mile  and  a  half  beyond  the  angle,  on  the 
north-west  side,  this  dyke  cuts  across  the  narrow  intervening  strip  of 
Silurian  strata  into  the  great  boundary  fault,  along  which  it  con- 
tinues to  run  until  it  is  lost  under  the  alluvium  of  the  Nith.  Parallel, 
in  a  general  sense,  with  the  faiilt  which  has  just  been  described,  a  number 
of  minor  dislocations  traverse  the  coal-field,  with  the  effect  of  letting  down 
the  beds  by  a  series  of  steps  towards  the  north-east  or  deepest  part  of  the 
field.  Of  these,  the  largest  has  been  already  referred  to  as  having  a  throw 
of  ninety  fathoms.  It  runs  in  a  N.N.W.  direction,  and,  as  shown  by  the 
workings  in  the  Bankhead  Colliery,  brings  down  the  Calmstone  coal  against 
the  splint  coal-seam.  Yet,  as  before  remarked,  it  does  not  penetrate  the 
overlying  red  sandstones,  the  whole  of  the  displaced  rock  on  the  up-throw 
side  of  the  dislocation  having  been  removed  by  denudation  before  these 
strata  were  deposited. 

One  distinguishing  feature  in  the  Sanquhar  coal-field  is  the  fact  that 
a'ong  the  south-west  half  of  the  field  the  strata  are  traversed  in  a  north- 

History  of  Sanquhar.  351 

westerly  direction  by  at  least  three  narrow  doleritic  dykes,  which  send 
out  intrusive  sheets  along  the  coal-seams.  The  trap  itself  is  much 
decomposed,  having  the  same  character  as  the  white-trap  so  common  in 
the  Ayrshire  coal-fields.  As  in  Ayrshire,  the  coals  are  so  altered  by  it  as 
to  be  unworkable.  In  some  places  they  have  been  converted  into  beauti- 
fully columnar  anthracite. 


Indications  of  former  river-courses  are  sometimes  found  under  the  drift 
in  the  course  of  mining  operations.  Thus,  in  the  valley  of  the  Nith,  to 
the  west  of  Kirkconnel,  a  series  of  borings  showed  the  existence  of  a  deep 
trench  worn  out  of  the  Carboniferous  rocks,  and  filled  up  with  boulder-clay. 
This  trench  was  probably  at  one  time  the  water-course  of  the  Nith,  which 
has  since  been  forced  to  cut  a  gorge  for  itself  out  of  the  rocks,  without 
regaining  its  old  channel.  In  the  coal-workings  between  Old  Kelloside 
and  Drambuie  the  splint  coal  was  found  to  be  cut  out  by  boulder-clay  at 
a  depth  of  ten  fathoms.  But  mines  were  driven  through  the  obstruction, 
and  the  coal  was  regained  on  the  other  side  of  what  seems  to  have  been 
another  portion  of  a  river  channel.  A  little  to  the  east  of  Sanquhar  a 
similar  buried  water-course  was  encountered  in  working  the  Daugh 
[probably  Splint]  coal,  and  in  this  instance  sand  was  found  to  lie  between 
the  boulder-clay  and  the  rocks  below. 


It  has  not  been  found  possible  to  ascertain  with  any  degree 
of  certainty  when  the  weaving  industry,  which  ultimately  be- 
came for  a  lengthened  period  of  time  the  principal  employment 
in  the  town,  first  sprang  up.  In  all  likelihood,  it  gradually 
grew  from  small  beginnings.  As  was  the  case  in  most  country 
districts  in  Scotland,  there  had  always  been  a  deal  of  weaving 
work  done,  consisting  of  woollen  cloth  and  blankets.  The 
clothing  of  the  people  was  of  rough  material,  and  was 
prepared  in  their  own  dwellings.  Communication  was 
difficult,  and  trade  was  entirely  of  a  local  character,  each 
district  being  of  necessity  self-sustaining  to  a  great  extent, 
particularly  in  the  article  of  clothing.  There  was,  it  is  true, 
a  tribe  of  pedlars  or  packmen,  so  called  because  they  carried 

352  History  of  Sanquhar. 

about  from  house  to  house  on  their  back  their  stock-in-trade, 
consisting  of  linen  and  the  finer  dress  materials,  which  were 
manufactured  in  the  larger  towns  or  manufactories  ;  but 
money  was  scarce,  and  few  of  the  working  people  (and  they 
formed  the  great  bulk  of  the  population)  could  afford  such 
luxuries.  What  linen  they  required  was  provided  by  the 
small  plots  of  lint,  which  we  refer  to  in  the  chapter  on 
agriculture  as  having  been  grown  on  many  farms  at  that 
time.  Provision  for  the  clothing  of  the  family  was  made  in 
every  well-managed  house,  and  all  the  wealth  to  which  a 
thrifty  couple  could  hope  to  attain  consisted,  not  in  money 
saved,  but  in  a  bien  house.  Situated  in  the  heart  of  a 
pastoral  country,  there  was  no  difficulty  in  obtaining  the  raw 
material — wool,  and  small  mills  for  performing  those  of  the 
processes  of  manufacture  which  could  not  be  accomplished  by 
hand  were  numerous.  The  wool  could  be  obtained  either  by 
weight  or  in  skins  or  fleeces,  most  commonly  the  latter.  If 
on  skins,  the  wool  was  removed  by  the  use  of  quick -lime, 
and  the  process  of  preparation  for  its  manufacture  began. 
The  wool  was  first  scoured,  and  urine,  being  in  request  as  a 
valuable  aid  in  this  process,  was  carefully  stored  up.  It  was 
then  spread  out,  either  on  the  ground  or  on  a  hedge,  on  a 
sunny  day  to  be  dried.  When  dry,  it  was  laid  past  in  the 
loft  or  an  outhouse,  and  the  work  of  teazing — that  is,  of 
separating  the  fibres  with  the  fingers,  leaving  it  a  light,  loose 
mass — was  engaged  in  in  the  winter  evenings.  The  teazing 
was  a  tedious  process,  but  all — men,  women,  and  children — 
were  pressed  into  the  service,  and  often  neighbours  gave  each 
other  a  helping  hand.  Even  those  who  had  been  hard  at 
work  all  day  could  join  in,  for  it  was  a  light  job,  and,  indeed, 
no  one  cared  to  miss  it,  for  many  a  merry  party  met  to  teaze 
the  gude-wife's  woo'.  The  winter's  storm  might  rage  without, 
but,  with  a  good  blazing  fire  of  peats  on  the  hearth,  crack 
and  joke  went  round,  and  the  work  went  on  right  merrily. 

The  parties  that  gathered  at  night  round  the  fire  when 
the  wool  was  being  teazed  or  spun,  and  the   way  in    which 

History  of  Sanquhar.  353 

the  evening  was  spent,  is  admirably  described  in  the  follow- 
ing lines  : — 

On  a  winter's  night,  my  grannam  spinning, 

To  make  a  web  of  good  Scots  linen  ; 

Her  stool  being  placed  next  the  chimley 

(For  she  was  auld,  and  saw  right  dimly). 

My  lucky  dad,  an  honest  Whig, 

Was  telling  tales  of  Bothwell  Brig  ; 

He  could  not  miss  the  attempt, 

For  he  was  sitting  pu'iug  hemp. 

My  aunt,  whom  nane  dare  say  has  no  grace, 

\Yas  reading  in  the  Pilgrim's  Progress  ; 

The  meikle  tasker,  Davie  Dallas, 

Was  telling  blads  of  William  Wallace  ; 

My  mither  bade  her  second  son  say 

What  he'd  by  heart  of  Davit  Lindsay  ; 

Our  herd,  whom  all  folks  hate  that  knows  him, 

Was  busy  hunting  in  his  bosom. 

The  bairns  and  oyes  were  all  within  doors  ; 
The  youngest  of  us  chewing  cinders, 
And  all  the  auld  anes  telling  wonders. 

— Pennicuick's  Poems,  p.  7. 

The  teazing  over,  the  gudewife  must  needs  hie  away  on  a 
good  dry  day  to  the  mill  (for  the  wool  must  on  no  account 
get  wet),  whence  she  received  it,  as  it  came  off  the  rollers, 
in  what  were  called  "rowings,"  ready  for  the  spinning. 

The  spinning  wheel — the  big  wheel  as  it  was  called  in 
contradistinction  to  the  small  or  "  wee  wheel  " — was  an  insti- 
tution in  every  well-regulated  house,  and  was  a  conspicuous 
feature  in  every  bride's  flit  tin'.  No  mother  worthy  of  the 
name  would  consider  her  daughter's  outfit  complete  without 
a  spinning  wheel,  and  so  it  always  occupied  the  topmost 
place  in  the  cart  which  bore  away  the  plenishing  for  the  new 
home  that  was  to  be  set  up.  The  spinning,  too,  like  the 
teazing,  was  a  work  relegated  to  the  evenings  as  a  rule,  and 
the  bum  of  the  big  wheel  had  a  pleasant  homely  sound.  It 
was  the  pride  of  every  good  housewife  to  be  considered  a 
good  spinner,  the  goodness  consisting  in  producing  yarn  of 


354  History  of  Sanquhar. 

an  even  thickness.  This  work  of  spinning  was  a  most 
healthful  exercise,  bringing  as  it  did  the  whole  muscles  of 
the  body  into  play,  and  there  was  none  in  which  the  graces 
of  the  female  figure  were  more  effectively  displayed.  Dressed 
in  a  clean  loose  jacket,  drawn  tightly  together  at  the  waist, 
her  hair  tied  with  a  bright  ribbon  behind  her  head,  the 
bloom  of  youth  and  perfect  health  which  mantled  her  cheek 
heightened  by  the  supple  movement  of  every  limb,  a  pretty 
country  girl  never  looked  more  captivating  than  when 
spinning  at  the  wheel.  Stooping  forward  with  the  low 
curtsey  of  a  high-bred  dame,  she  joins  the  thread,  and  then 
slowly  raises  her  body  to  its  full  height,  the  wool,  held  daintily 
between  finger  and  thumb,  is  meanwhile,  as  she  steps  gently 
back,  drawn  out  into  thread  by  the  left  arm,  which  is  brought 
back  with  many  a  graceful  sweep  and  curve  till  it  is  extended 
full  length  behind  the  shoulder;  the  body  rests  for  a  moment 
in  a  pose  of  rare  beautj^,  when,  bending  down  with  a  sudden 
swoop,  she  darts  forward,  and  the  thread,  freed  by  a 
sharp  jerk  from  the  point  of  the  spindle,  is  swiftly 
wound  upon  it.  We  doubt  not  that  the  first  dazzling 
vision  that  sent  him  head  over  ears  in  love  with  his  lass  was 
often  obtained  by  the  country  swain  when,  peeping  timidly 
through  the  window,  he  saw  her  spinning  at  the  wheel. 

When  all  had  been  converted  into  yarn,  the  next 
process  was  another  scouring  to  free  it  of  the  oil  which  had 
been  added  to  it  at  the  mill,  followed  by  the  dyeing — the 
mysteries  of  producing  the  common  colours  of  blue,  black, 
and  brown,  which  were  most  in  favour,  being  known  to  all 
the  women  folks  ;  and  then,  after  being  again  carefully 
dried,  it  was  taken  to  the  weaver,  or  the  weaver  was  sent  foi 
and  received  both  the  yarn  and  the  gude-wife's  explicit 
directions  as  to  the  pattern  and  description  of  the  cloth 
wanted.  The  arrival  home  of  the  web  had  been  anticipated, 
and  the  tailor  had  been  bespoke  for  the  making-up. 
Country  tailoring  work  was  all  done  in  those  days  in  the 
people's  homes,  and  the  practice  of  going  from  house  to 

History  of  tianquhar.  355 

house  was  called,  for  what  reason  we  cannot  learn,  "whipping 
the  cat."  The  tailor  took  with  him  on  these  expeditions 
not  only  the  inevitable  needle,  thread,  and  wax,  but  the 
"  la'brod"  and  the  "goose  "—the  large  iron  with  which  the  seams 
were  laid  smooth — and  these  instruments  of  trade  were  carried 
by  the  apprentice,  giving  rise  to  the  proverb,  "The  youngest 
tailor  carries  the  goose."  He  remained  about  the  house  till 
the  whole  web  had  been  used  up,  or,  at  all  events,  till  each 
male  member  of  the  household  had  been  encased  in  a  new 
suit.  A  tailor's  wages  were  Is  6d  a  day  and  his  food.  In  this 
way  the  clothing  of  country  people  was  procured  at  no  great 
outlay  in  money,  and  it  had  this  advantage  that,  if  not 
burnt  in  the  dyeing,  the  cloth  being  a'  oo'  gave  every  satis- 
faction in  the  wear.  The  clothing  of  the  women  was  likewise, 
for  the  most  part,  of  good  honest  homespun  stuff,  flannel  and 
drugget  petticoats,  and  dresses  of  the  latter  material  as  well ; 
the  other  accessories  of  female  attire  being  procured  either 
from  pedlars,  when  they  came  round  periodically,  as  has  been 
said,  or  at  the  fairs,  where  great  numbers  of  this  fraternity 
congregated  for  the  purposes  of  trading.  These  bargains 
were,  however,  for  the  most  part  struck  at  their  own  homes. 
Pedlars  were  always  welcome  visitors  at  country  houses,  and 
were  a  shrewd,  wide-awake  class.  They  studied  women's 
tastes  well,  and  had  their  packs  carefully  made  up  of  what  they 
knew  would  take  their  fancy.  Their  visits  were  looked  for- 
ward to  and  were  always  welcome,  and  the  pedlar,  whether 
he  might  succeed  in  doing  a  good  stroke  of  business  or  not, 
could  always  count  on  hospitable  entertainment.  Not  only 
did  the  women  folks  in  particular  take  a  pleasure  in  the 
inspection  of  his  wares,  which  he  was  careful  to  spread 
out  in  the  most  tempting  fashion,  seeking  all  the  while  to 
secure  a  purchase  by  a  compliment  to  the  lady's  good  looks 
dropped  in  his  most  artless  yet  artful  manner,  or  in  what- 
ever other  way  was  most  likely  to  be  successful,  but  the 
gudeman  was  always  glad,  too,  to  see  the  pedlar.  Living  in 
a  quiet  and  isolated  situation,  cut  off  from  all  the  world 

356  History  of  Sanquhar. 

around  him,  he  gladly  welcomed  the  visit  of  one  who  had 
not  only  a  well-filled  pack,  but  a  mind  stored  with  the  folk- 
lore of  the  whole  wide  district  which  he  travelled  and  the 
current  public  news  of  the  country.  In  days  when  people's 
society  was  confined  to  that  of  their  nearest  neighbours,  before 
the  age  of  newspapers  and  railways,  the  pedlar's  "  crack  "  was 
the  only  source  from  which  they  could  learn  what  was  going 
on  outside  the  circle  of  their  own  immediate  surroundings. 

The  introduction  of  cotton  in  the  eighteenth  century  gave 
a  great  stimulus  to  the  weaving  trade.  The  new  material 
was  applicable  to  a  variety  of  purposes,  and  there  sprang  up 
a  system  of  agencies  through  which  the  cotton  yarns  were 
distributed  through  the  country  districts  to  be  woven  into 
cloth.  The  rates  which  were  allowed  per  ell  enabled  the 
weavers  to  make  excellent  wages  ;  the  consequence  was  that 
the  numbers  engaged  in  this  industry  rapidly  increased. 
In  Sanquhar  there  were  from  120  to  150  hand-looms  con- 
stantly going  when  the  trade  was  at  its  best,  and  besides,  a 
host  of  women,  who  were  called  "  pirn-fillers,"  were  employed 
in  winding  the  yarn  on  to  "  pirns."  Small  weaving  shops 
were  erected  all  over  the  town,  containing  two,  four,  or  six, 
but  not  exceeding  eight  looms.  As  one  traversed  the  street, 
therefore,  his  ears  were  filled  with  the  steady  click  of  the 
shuttle  and  the  whirr  of  the  "  wee  wheel."  When  times 
were  good,  a  weaver  who  was  skilful  at  his  work  and  indus- 
trious, could  make  25s  or  30s  a  week,  and  women  6s  or  7s  at 
pirn-filling.  Boys  were  apprenticed  for  3|  or  4  years,  and 
received  for  wages  the  one-half  of  the  proceeds  of  their  work. 
The  weavers  were,  therefore,  the  aristocracy  of  the  tradesmen 
of  that  time.  The  work  of  itself  was  interesting,  and  the 
more  elaborate  patterns  demanded  a  high  degree  of  skill  and 
care.  They  were  men  of  high  average  intelligence,  and  had 
their  wits  sharpened  by  the  frequent  discussions  which  they 
held  on  all  kinds  of  topics — political,  social,  and  religious. 
The  conditions  under  which  their  work  was  performed  in 
these  small  loomshops,  where  the  numbers  were  just 

History  of  Sanquhar.  357 

sufficient  to  form  a  good  talking-circle,  and  where  their 
tongues  were  plied  with  as  great  diligence  as  their  hands, 
were  favourable  to  the  interchange  of  ideas.  The  simpler 
patterns  they  could  work  almost  mechanically,  leaving 
their  minds  perfectly  free  for  the  discussion  of  news, 
or  the  debate  of  whatever  question  was  at  the  moment 
agitating  the  public  mind.  The  lot,  truly,  of  a  country  weaver 
was  thus,  from  a  working-man's  point  of  view,  a  most 
desirable  one.  They  earned  wages  that  kept  themselves 
and  their  families  in  a  condition  of  great  comfort,  and  they  had 
not  to  endure  the  grinding  toil  then  borne  by  the  operatives 
of  Lancashire  during  long,  long  hours,  and  under  the  search- 
ing eye  of  overseers,  who  were  hard  taskmasters.  Their 
time  was  pretty  much  in  their  own  hands,  and  they  could 
work  long  or  short  hours  just  as  they  liked.  No  startling 
incident  occurred  on  the  street,  but  instantly  the  weaver  flung 
down  the  shuttle,  snatched  his  bonnet,  and  rushed  out,  twist- 
ing his  apron  round  his  waist  as  he  ran.  In  all  the  public 
days  and  celebrations,  which  of  themselves  stirred  the  blood 
of  the  ancient  burghers,  and  afforded  food  for  talk  and 
discussion  for  days  after — the  Trades  and  Council  elections, 
the  riding  of  the  marches,  the  annual  celebration  of  the 
King's  birthday — in  these  the  weavers  bore  a  prominent  part, 
and  in  all  the  horse-play  and  practical  joking  with  which,  in 
days  when  police  regulations  were  less  stringent,  the  popu- 
lace amused  themselves.  The  processions  customury  on  such 
occasions  embraced  the  incorporated  trades — weavers,  square- 
men  (masons  and  joiners),  smiths,  tailors,  and  shoemakers — 
who  turned  out  in  great  force.  Then,  the  monotony  of  their 
daily  work  received  an  agreeable  variation  in  harvest  time. 
In  days  of  shearing,  before  even  the  scythe,  not  to  speak  of 
the  reaping  machine,  was  introduced,  a  great  number  of 
hands  were  employed,  and  farmers  could  draw  upon  the 
weavers  for  a  supply  of  labour.  This  was  a  most  agreeable 
change  for  those  whose  work  at  other  times  was  all  in-doors, 
and  during  the  harvest  season  the  weaver  laid  in  a  stock  of 

358  History  of  Satiquhar. 

health  which  kept  him  going  all  the  rest  of  the  year.  A 
considerable  number  of  them,  too,  were  keen  anglers.  Their 
work  naturally  developed  a  deftness  of  hand  and  delicacy  of 
touch,  which  stood  them  in  good  stead  when  they  plied  the 
gentle  art. 

The  hand-loom  weavers  all  through  Scotland  were,  as 
everyone  knows,  keen  politicians,  and  those  of  Sanquhar  were 
no  exception.  Through  the  representation  of  the  burgh  in 
Parliament,  they  were  naturally  led  to  take  a  strong  interest 
in  public  affairs,  and  this  interest  was  sustained  by  the  con- 
tinued discussions,  for  which,  as  we  have  said,  the  nature  of 
their  avocation  afforded  exceptional  opportunities.  Radicals 
of  the  Radicals,  they  were  in  entire  sympathy  with  every 
movement  for  the  curtailment  of  the  power  of  the  governing 
classes,  and  the  extension  and  development  of  popular 

Newspapers  were  scarce,  but  a  few  did  find  their  way 
amongst  them,  and  they  were  of  the  most  pronounced  stamp, 
the  strong  writing  which  they  contained  serving  to  fan  the 
flame  of  their  political  zeal.  Their  interest  was  not  confined 
to  their  own  country,  but  during  the  revolutionary  periods 
in  France  and  other  Continental  nations  they  were  acquainted 
with  the  doings  of  the  French  Republican  leaders,  whose  names 
were  familiar  in  their  mouths,  but  with  a  pronunciation  of  a 
purely  phonetic  character,  to  which  their  owners  would  never 
have  answered.  During  the  Chartist  agitation  the  weavers 
were  in  a  state  of  great  ferment.  They  could  talk  glibly  of  the 
"five  points"  and  of  the  rights  of  man  in  general,  and  the  more 
fiery  spirits  among  them  were  in  danger  of  getting  into 
trouble  with  the  authorities.  The  town  was  occasionally 
visited  by  Chartist  lecturers,  and  meetings  were  held  in  one 
or  other  of  the  large  loomshops,  where  addresses  of  the  usual 
violent  character  were  delivered. 

So  much  for  the  men,  now  let  us  speak  of  the  industry 
itself.  A  number  were  engaged  in  weaving  woollen  goods 
for  the  country  people,  and  were  called  "  customer " 

History  of  Sanquhar.  359 

weavers,  but  the  bulk  were  employed  in  working  cotton. 
As  already  stated,  the  weavers  numbered  over  120, 
and  worked  in  groups  of  2,  4,  6,  or  8,  according  to  the  size  of 
the  shop.  These  shops  were  built,  several  of  them  on  the 
line  of  the  street,  others  in  the  gardens  attached  to  their 
dwellings,  and  for  the  most  part  were  well-lighted  and  airy. 
The  work  consisted,  at  one  time  in  the  early  part  of  the 
century,  principally  of  napkins,  called  "  Policats,"  and  checks 
of  various  colours  for  dresses.  About  1838,  shawls  called 
"  Bundanes  "  were  woven,  silk  in  the  weft  and  cotton  in  the 
warp.  Provost  Broom  was  the  agent  in  this  class  of  goods 
for  his  brother  James,  a  large  manufacturer  in  Glasgow. 
Later  on,  gauzes  were  introduced,  woollen  weft  and  cotton 
warp,  worked  very  thin  for  use  as  light  summer  dresses. 
These  required  great  care  and  delicacy  of  handling.  They 
were  followed  by  Tartans,  some,  if  not  most  of  them,  all  wool, 
but  others  of  an  inferior  description  of  cotton  warp.  Later 
still,  winceys  were  introduced,  in  which  again  Angola  yarn 
was  substituted  for  good  home  wool,  for  the  competition  in 
trade  was  already  leading  the  manufacturers,  in  order  to  cut 
each  other  out  in  price,  to  abandon  the  old-fashioned  honest 
methods,  and  to  substitute  baser  materials.  The  warp  of  the 
web  called  the  "  chain,"  came  wound  in  the  form  of  a  large 
ball,  and  the  weft  sufficient  for  the  working  of  the  web  was 
given  out  in  cuts  along  with  the  warp.  The  weft,  of  course, 
went  to  the  pirn-fillers  to  be  wound  on  to  pirns  by  the  wee 
wheel.  These  pirn-fillers  worked  in  their  own  homes.  The 
weavers  and  they  sometimes  laid  their  heads  together  in 
order  to  save  part  of  the  weft,  and  had  to  be  sharply  looked 
after  by  the  agents.  Notwithstanding  the  vigilance  of  the 
latter,  however,  the  weaver  sometimes  had  a  little  piece 
of  cloth  to  sell  privately  on  his  own  account,  and  where  the 
materials  for  its  manufacture  had  come  from  nobody  knew, 
of  course,  but  anybody  could  shrewdly  guess. 

The  weaving  trade   continued   for  a   long  time   the  most 
prosperous  and  well  paid  in  country  districts  ;  but  the  wit  of 

360  History  of  Sanquhar. 

man  was  exercised  to  devise  means  whereby  the  rapidly 
increasing  demand  for  cotton  goods,  not  only  for  the  home, 
but  likewise  for  the  export  trade,  could  be  met,  and  in  1765 
the  spinning-jenny  was  invented,  followed  a  few  years  later 
by  the  power-loom.  These  inventions  were  fated  to  work  a 
complete  revolution  in  the  trade,  to  prove  an  increasingly 
formidable  rival  to  hand-loom  weaving,  and  at  length  to  lead 
to  its  almost  complete  extinction.  For  a  good  long  time  the 
pressure  was  not  felt,  the  great  demand,  to  which  reference  has 
been  made,  due  to  thegradualand  natural  development  of  trade 
at  home,  and  the  increased  volume  of  international  commerce 
sufficing  to  take  up,  at  remunerative  prices,  the  whole  pro- 
duce of  the  looms  of  the  country  of  all  kinds.  But  gradually 
the  new  machines  came  more  and  more  into  use  ;  great 
factories  sprang  up  in  the  principal  manufacturing  districts, 
till  they  could  not  only  keep  pace  with  the  demand,  but  by 
the  reduction  in  the  cost  of  manufacture,  they  undermined 
the  hand-loom  weaver's  position  to  a  very  serious  extent,  and 
cast  a  black  shadow  over  his  future  prospects.  This  applied 
to  the  plainer  descriptions  of  goods,  but  the  hand-loom 
weaver  could  still  hold  his  ground  in  the  better  classes  of 
work,  the  intricacies  of  which  were  beyond  the  capacity  of 
the  power-loom  as  it  then  was.  It  was  now,  however,  only  a 
question  of  time  ;  ingenious  minds  were  working  away  at  the 
improvement  of  the  machinery,  and  step  after  step  was 
gained,  each  one  serving  to  circumscribe  the  area  of  the 
employment  of  the  hand-loom,  until  at  length  the  weaver 
was  driven  from  the  field,  and  compelled  either  to  move  to  a 
large  town,  where  jobs  for  which  his  previous  experience 
peculiarly  fitted  him,  could  be  had  in  the  large  factories,  or 
to  turn  his  hand  to  some  other  employment  altogether.  The 
body  of  weavers,  when  the  collapse  came,  embraced,  of  course, 
people  of  all  ages,  and  upon  the  older  people  who  were  too 
old  to  transplant,  and  too  old  to  adapt  themselves  to  any  other 
employment,  the  altered  circumstances  of  their  condition  fell 
with  crushing  force.  They  had  to  adopt  a  style  of  living,  to 

History  of  Satiquhar.  361 

which,  in  their  earlier  days,  they  had  not  been  accustomed, 
and  their  later  days  were  embittered  by  deep  poverty  and 
hardship.  The  younger  men  and  those  in  the  prime  of  life 
clung  tenaciously  to  their  native  town,  and  shrank  from  the 
pain  of  severing  their  life-long  associations.  The  depression 
was,  in  a  spirit  of  hopefulness,  looked  upon  as  only  temporary, 
and  they  sustained  themselves  in  the  faith  of  good  times 
that  never  were  to  come.  Sometimes,  when  no  work  was  to 
be  obtained  at  home,  things  were  not  quite  so  bad  in  other 
towns,  and  they  would  set  forth  to  places  at  a  considerable 
distance — Cumnock,  Lesmahagovv,  and  even  Glasgow,  and 
beg  for  work.  Any  one  who  was  successful  was,  when  he 
arrived  home  with  the  chain  under  his  arm,  regarded  with 
envy  by  his  neighbours.  The  name — the  Calton  Close — given 
to  a  side  street,  was  derived  from  the  fact  that  at  this 
period  a  band  of  weavers,  who  had  gone  to  Glasgow  and  been 
employed  in  the  Calton  district,  returned  on  the  revival 
of  trade  and  worked  together  down  this  close.  In  their 
extremity  they  turned  for  help  to  their  municipal  rulers. 
The  Minutes  of  the  Town  Council  contain  records  of  appli- 
cations of  this  sort,  and  the  manner  in  which  they  were  dealt 
with.  The  finances  of  the  town  were  not  always  in  a  condi- 
tion to  allow  of  much  being  done  in  the  way  of  relief,  but 
the  Council  shewed  a  commendable  readiness  so  far  as  in 
them  lay  to  mitigate  the  distress  of  the  weavers.  They 
wisely  made  this  relief  subject  to  a  labour  test  ;  in  this  way 
preserving  to  a  certain  extent  the  self-respect  of  the  partici- 
pants, and  providing  a  check  upon  imposture.  The  peti- 
tioners were  offered  employment  in  certain  works — draining, 
road-making,  &c.,  on  the  property  of  the  town,  the  wage 
allowed  being  Is  per  day.  There  are  certain  risks  attendant 
upon  relief  of  the  unemployed,  and  the  results  are  often 
anything  but  satisfactory.  That  is  the  experience  of  all  the 
authorities  who  have  had  anything  to  do  with  duties  of  that 
kind,  and  it  was  the  same  here.  The  work  was  so  different 
to  what  the  weavers  had  been  used,  their  soft  hands  were  ill 


362  History  of  Sanquluir. 

fitted  to  handle  pick  and  shovel,  and,  accustomed  to  being 
indoors,  they  could  not  well  rough  it  outside  as  an  agricul- 
tural labourer  might,  and  the  wage  was  small.  Repeated 
applications  of  the  same  kind  were  made  at  intervals 
in  subsequent  years,  and  were  dealt  with  much  in  the  same 
way.  Meanwhile,  the  older  men  were  dying  out,  those  who 
survived  were,  some  of  them,  aided  by  their  families  who  had 
now  grown  up,  whilst  others,  including  a  good  many  of  the 
old  pirn-fillers,  were  compelled  to  seek  parochial  relief,  and 
continued  for  years  to  swell  the  roll  of  paupers.  A  few  still 
survive,  but  the  weaving  industry  is  practically  extinct,  only 
a  few  of  the  then  young  men,  now  grown  somewhat  aged, 
being  employed  in  the  two  woollen  mills  at  Crawick  and  Nith- 
bank,  while  others  are  scattered  here  and  there  about  the 
centres  of  manufacturing  industry,  where  the  more  enter- 
prising of  them,  who  laid  themselves  out  in  time  to  learn 
the  new  machines,  are  making  good  wages. 

Carpet -weaving  in  this  parish  was  first  begun  in  the  end 
of  last  century  at  a  place  called  Factory  (hence  the  name), 
about  fifty  yards  below  the  old  bridge  of  Crawick.  It  con- 
sisted only  of  a  few  hand-looms  in  the  weavers'  dwelling- 
houses.  As  the  trade  increased  it  extended  to  Crawick  Mill, 
which  became  the  seat  of  the  manufacture.  The  weaving 
was  on  what  was  known  as  the  draw-boy  system,  so-called 
because,  while  the  weaver  drove  the  loom,  a  boy  was  employed 
who  worked  the  pattern  by  drawing  certain  cords  overhead. 
At  a  later  date  loom-shops  were  built,  containing  from  eight 
to  twelve  looms,  and  in  1837  the  "big  shop"  was  erected  to 
accommodate  32  looms — 16  on  each  of  the  two  storeys  ;  and 
this  was  followed  next  year  with  a  dyehouse.  There  were 
no  less  than  54  looms  going  when  the  trade  was  at  its  height, 
the  whole,  together  with  the  village,  being  lighted  by  gas, 
which  was  introduced  in  1838.  The  company  which  was 
formed  consisted  of  local  gentlemen  and  farmers,  among 
whom  were  Captain  Lorimer  of  Kirkland,  the  brothers 
Wilson  of  Butknowe  and  Castlebrae,  and  James  M'Call,  the 

History  of  Sanquhar.  363 

last-named  of  whom  had  a  practical  knowledge  of  the 
business,  and  was  manager  then  and  for  many  years  after. 
The  Crawick  Mill  carpets  acquired  a  high  reputation  for 
durability.  This,  more  than  elegance  of  pattern,  was  the  aim 
of  the  company,  and  they  did  a  large  trade,  not  only  in  the 
kingdom,  but  also  with  foreign  countries,  principally  South 
America,  a  large  proportion  of  their  total  production  being 
shipped  to  Valparaiso.  They  had  also  trade  connections 
with  North  America  and  the  continent  of  Europe.  At  a 
later  date,  the  partners  were — Mr  John  Halliday,  merchant, 
Sanquhar,  and  Mr  William  Williamson,  the  former  tenant  of 
Thirlesholm,  who  resided  at  Factory,  Mr  M'Oall  still  retain- 
ing the  management.  He  ultimately  withdrew  in  1852,  and 
Mr  John  Williamson,  another  merchant  in  Sanquhar,  and 
for  many  years  Provost  of  the  burgh,  succeeded  his  father  in 
the  partnership,  Mr  M'Call's  place  as  managing  partner 
being  taken  by  a  Mr  Sawers.  Meanwhile,  the  company  was 
less  prosperous  than  it  had  been,  and  they  were  not  able  for 
lack  of  capital  to  introduce  the  improved  machinery  which 
had  been  invented,  the  result  being  that  their  products 
failed  to  command  the  same  market,  and  to  bring  as  remun- 
erative prices.  The  relations  between  Mr  Halliday  and  Mr 
Sawers  were  not  of  the  most  satisfactory  kind,  when  the 
death  in  1858  of  the  former,  who  had  for  years  been  the 
principal  partner,  occurred.  This  event  caused  the  collapse 
of  the  company.  Mr  Sawers  would  fain  have  carried  on  the 
business,  and  made  an  offer  to  Mrs  Groom,  the  only  child  of 
the  late  Mr  Halliday,  for  the  whole  property  of  the  company — 
machinery,  stock,  &c.,  but  it  was  not  accepted.  No  other 
person  showed  a  disposition  to  offer,  and  ultimately  the 
stock  in  hand  was  sent  to  Glasgow  for  sale,  and  the  machinery 
was  disposed  of  to  brokers.  Thus  came  to  an  end  the 
Grawick  Mill  Carpet  Company,  which  for  nearly  a  hundred 
years  had  contributed  in  no  small  degree  to  the  prosperity 
ot  Sanquhar.  Crawick  Mill  was  a  clean,  tidy  little  hamlet, 
pleasantly  embosomed  on  the  banks  of  the  Crawick,  and 

364  Itistory  of  Sanquhar. 

sheltered  from  almost  every  wind  that  blew,  and  there  was  no 
happier  colony  of  weavers  to  be  found  in  any  country  district 
in  Scotland.  They  were  almost  all  natives,  whose  whole  life 
associations  were  connected  with  the  place. 

We  have  no  pleasanter  memory  than  that  of  the  weavers 
playing  quoits,  of  which  they  were  very  fond,  on  the  summer 
evenings  on  the  "  Alley" — a  long  strip  of  ground  on  the  banks 
of  the  stream  behind  the  village,  while  their  wives,  with 
their  clean  "  mutches,"  sat  about  or  sauntered  up  and  down 
chatting  and  gossiping,  and  the  bairns  were  either  scrambling 
along  the  wooded  banks  of  the  Crawick  or  "  paidling  "  in  its 
clear  water,  the  pleasant  babble  of  the  stream,  as  it  rushed 
over  the  dam-head,  mingling  with  the  voices  of  the  men  at 
their  game  and  the  joyous  shouts  and  laughter  of  the  children. 
The  closing  of  the  works  cast  a  deep  gloom  on  every  hearth. 
Such  an  untoward  event  had  not  been  apprehended,  and  it 
fell  like  a  stunning  blow.  In  truth,  it  was  some  time  before 
they  could  realise  that  they  must  leave  their  old  homes  for 
ever,  and  when  the  inevitable  step  had  to  be  taken  there  was 
many  a  sorrowful  flitting.  The  weavers  had  to  seek  employ- 
ment in  Kilmarnock,  Ayr,  and  other  towns  where  the 
carpet  industry  was  pursued,  and,  as  the  train  passed  over  the 
bridge,  overlooking  the  village,  and  they  obtained  the  last 
look  of  their  old  homes,  their  hearts  were  heavy,  and  their 
eyes  filled  with  tears.  In  a  very  short  time,  the  little  village, 
which  had  been  so  long  the  scene  of  the  throbbing  life  of  a 
happy  little  community,  was  silent  and  deserted.  The 
circumstances  aroused  a  deep  feeling  of  sympathy  in  the 
whole  district,  and,  before  the  weavers  scattered,  a  few  of  the 
more  wealthy  farmers,  having  subscribed  £10,000  of  capital, 
approached  the  proprietor — the  Duke  of  Buccleuch — for  a 
lease  of  the  works  to  a  new  company,  declaring  in  their 
memorial  that  they  were  actuated  by  no  motive  of  private 
gain,  but  only  by  a  desire  to  provide  employment  for  the 
inhabitants,  and  to  prevent  their  dispersion.  The  appeal, 
however,  elicited  no  response,  a  circumstance  which  extin- 

History  of  Sanqukar.  36  o 

guished  the  last  hope  of  the  poor  carpet  weavers,  and 
caused  a  feeling  of  keen  disappointment  among  the  whole 

A  more  successful  attempt  to  revive  the  fortunes  of  the 
place  was  that  in  1876,  when  a  proposal  was  made  by  Mr 
John  M'Queen  to  start  a  woollen  factory.  It  was  heartily 
taken  up  by  Mr  Gilchrist-Clark,  Chamberlain  to  the  Duke 
of  Buccleuch,  who  always  showed  a  warm  interest  in  the 
prosperity  of  Sanquhar,  and  while  the  old  buildings  were 
re-modelled,  new  premises  were  erected,  which  were  lighted 
from  the  roof,  and  a  water-wheel  supplied  of  four  times  the 
power  of  the  old  one.  Owing,  however,  to  drought  in  summer 
and  frost  in  winter,  the  supply  of  water  to  drive  the  wheel 
is  always  precarious,  and  steam  power  was  supplied.  By 
an  ingenious  arrangement,  whereby  both  the  water  wheel 
and  the  engine  propel  the  same  shaft,  the  steam  is  made 
supplementary  only  to  the  water,  but  the  engine  is  of  suffi- 
cient power  to  drive  the  whole  machinery  were  the  water 
power  to  be  altogether  cat  off.  The  works  embrace  four  sets 
of  self-acting  mules  and  nineteen  power-looms  for  the  weaving 
of  blankets  from  1  to  2£  yards  in  width.  The  spinning 
department  contains  1000  spindles,  and  the  output,  when 
working  up  to  full  capacity,  is  from  fifty  to  sixty  pairs  of 
blankets  of  average  weight  per  day.  Both  home  and  foreign 
wool  is  used  in  their  manufacture.  The  water  of  Crawick, 
being  very  clear  and  soft,  is  admirably  adapted  for 

Nithbank  Mill. — In  the  year  1884  an  extension  of  the 
trade  of  the  town  was  effected  by  the  erection  of  another 
woollen  factory  by  Messrs  M'Kendrick  Brothers,  on  the  top 
of  the  Braeheads.  The  machinery  is  propelled  wholly  by 
steam,  the  water  both  for  the  engine  and  for  other  purposes 
being  pumped  up  from  the  bed  of  the  river  below  the  works. 
The  building  consists  of  three  sheds,  embracing  a  floor  space 
of  90  by  68  feet,  and  various  smaller  erections  for  the  different 
departments  of  the  work.  There  are  two  sets  of  carders,  two 

366  History  of  Sanqukar. 

spinning-jennies  of  350  spindles  each,  and  eleven  power- 
looms.  The  main  branch  of  manufacture  is,  as  at  Crawick 
Mill,  blankets  ;  and,  since  their  erection,  the  works  at  Nith- 
bank  have  had  to  be  extended,  owing  to  the  expansion  of 
Messrs  M'Kendrick's  trade. 

In  the  early  part  of  the  present  century,  a  considerable 
trade  was  done  in  the  weaving,  by  hand,  of  stockings  and 
mittens,  which  were  sold  in  many  quarters,  and  bore  the 
distinctive  name  of  Sanquhar  gloves  and  Sanquhar  stockings, 
earning  a  deservedly  high  character  for  comfort  and  dura- 
bility. Both  were  woven  on  wires  in  a  peculiar  manner, 
and  were  parti-coloured,  and  of  various  patterns.  If  desired, 
the  customer  could  have  his  name  worked  round  the  wrist  of 
the  gloves  or  the  top  of  the  stocking.  The  colours  were,  for 
the  most  part,  simply  black  and  white,  the  yarn  used  being 
very  fine.  As  woverffthe  web  was  of  double  thickness,  and 
very  soft  and  "  feel."  Duke  Charles  of  Queensberry,  who  did 
so  much  for  the  locality,  gave  jointly  with  the  Trustees  for 
the  Encouragement  of  Manufactures,  £40  a  year,  to  be  dis- 
tributed to  promote  stocking-making,  and  other  home  in- 
dustries. Quite  recently,  the  Duke  of  Buccleuch  gave  a  large 
order  for  these  gloves  for  himself  and  his  family.  Their 
superiority  over  all  others  for  riding  and  driving  was  acci- 
dentally discovered  by  Mr  Hedley,  the  famous  coursing  judge, 
who  had  been  presented  with  a  pair  by  a  Sanquhar  friend.  Mr 
Hedley  was  more  tickled  with  their  appearance  than  impressed 
with  their  utility,  till  one  day  he  was  riding  to  hounds  when 
rain  came  on,  and  the  reins  kept  slipping  through  his  fingers 
do  what  he  might.  In  his  dilemma  he  bethought  him  of  the 
curious  Sanquhar  gloves  which  he  happened  to  have  in  his 
pocket.  These  he  exchanged  for  the  leather,  and,  to  his 
surprise,  he  was  able  to  hold  the  reins  quite  firmly,  however 
"  soapy "  they  might  become.  He  spoke  warmly  to  his 
friend  of  their  qualities,  and  now  he  never  mounts  the  saddle 
without  having  his  Sanquhar  gloves  with  him  if  there  be  the 
slightest  suspicion  of  rain.  The  Sanquhar  people  are  miss- 

History  of  Sanquhar.  3G7 

ing  an  opportunity  of  developing  what  would  probably  prove 
a  large  and  lucrative  trade.  Here  is  just  one  of  those  home 
industries,  the  extension  of  which  is  now  being  advocated  with 
the  view  of  checking  the  depopulation  of  our  country 
districts,  and  affording  a  means  of  livelihood  to  the  people 
in  their  own  homes.  Were  there  some  local  enterprise 
shewn,  the  foundations  of  what  would  prove  an  important 
industry  might  be  laid  with  the  expenditure  of  very  little 
capital.  But  if  this  is  to  be  done,  it  must  be  done  with- 
out delay,  as  the  secret  of  the  manufacture  is  now  confined  to 
a  very  few.  It  threatens  to  become  a  lost  art. 

Till  about  thirty  years  ago,  women,  as  many  as  300  at 
one  time,  were  employed  in  the  embroidery  of  muslin, 
at  which  good  wages  were  earned,  but  this  style  of 
trimming  for  ladies'  underclothing,  &c.,  having  gone  greatly 
out  of  fashion,  prices  were  gradually  cut  down  to  a  very  low 
figure,  and  latterly  the  trade  died  out  altogether. 


Bi*ickmaking. — The  making  of  bricks  is  an  industry  which 
has  flourished  in  this  district  for  centuries.  Perhaps  the 
earliest  notice  of  it  is  to  be  found  in  the  Earl  of  Queens- 
berry's  letter  to  his  factor  relative  to  certain  repairs  on  the 
Castle  at  Sanquhar,  which  will  be  found  at  the  end  of  the 
third  chapter.  There  seems,  however,  reason  to  believe 
that  bricks  of  a  rough  make  were  in  use  here  even  prior  to  that 
date  (1688).  Abundance  of  clay,  excellently  adapted  for  the 
purposes  of  brick-making,  had  always  been  readily  accessible 
in  the  lands  immediately  to  the  north  of  the  town.  The 
character  of  a  great  portion  of  the  land  on  that  side,  from 
Ryehill  for  some  miles  westward  is  a  stiff  clay  ;  but,  in  the 
vicinity  of  Sanquhar,  it  is  of  that  particular  description  of 
which  the  hardest  and  most  durable  bricks  can  be  made. 
There  are  still  traces  of  the  ancient  brickfields  here,  where 
work  has  been  carried  on  from  time  to  time  for  genera- 


tious,   and   the  name  "  Bricklands,"  which  had  been  given 

368  History  of  Sanquhar. 

to  this  part,  was  doubtless  derived  from  the  brick-making 
industry.  For  some  time  in  the  first  half  of  this  century,  no 
work  of  the  kind  was  done,  but  the  growing  demand  for 
bricks  for  building  purposes,  and  likewise  for  draining  tiles, 
in  consequence  of  the  extensive  introduction,  about  the 
year  1850,  of  the  system  of  draining  by  tiles,  led  to  the 
opening  in  1852  by  Mr  Geo.  Cleunel  of  a  brick  and  tile  work 
in  a  part  of  the  field  adjoining  that  previously  worked.  A 
large  and  prosperous  trade  was  done  for  many  years — so  long 
as  the  draining  mania  lasted,  but  latterly  the  trade  fell  off, 
partly  through  the  want  of  capital  to  adopt  the  improved 
machinery  that  had  meanwhile  been  introduced.  Mr  Clennel 
was  succeeded  in  1889  by  another  tenant,  Mr  James  Brodie, 
who  has  largely  improved  and  extended  the  works,  which 
are  now  in  a  complete  state,  and  embrace  five  Newcastle 
Kilns  and  a  Staffordshire  Oven.  The  improved  plant 
includes  a  machine  for  the  production  of  pressed  bricks  for 
outside  building. 

Meanwhile,  a  lease  of  the  original  brick  field,  which 
belongs  to  the  Duke  of  Buccleuch,  had  been  obtained  by 
Mr  M.  M'lver,  who  proceeded,  in  the  year  1885,  to  open  it  up, 
and  to  erect  the  necessary  buildings  and  machinery.  The 
works  are  similar  in  size  to  those  above  described.  Mr 
M'lver  was  the  inventor  of,  and  the  first  to  introduce,  the 
new  process  of  drying  by  means  of  steam,  whereby,  for  the 
first  time,  the  total  "  exhaust  "  of  the  engine  is  availed  of,  and 
distributed  over  the  entire  area  of  the  drying- floor,  thus 
securing  an  equable  heat,  putting  an  end  to  the  great  waste 
caused  by  over-drying,  and  saving  the  entire  cost  of  the 
numerous  fires  formerly  in  use  for  the  purpose.  Mr  M'lver 
is  lessee  of  the  whole  field  belonging  to  the  Duke,  extending 
to  over  eighty  acres,  the  seam  of  clay  being  twenty-one  feet 
of  surface  clay,  and  a  four-and-a-half  feet  face  of  blue  brick 
clay  in  the  mine. 

Forging. — The  forge  at  Crawick  Bridge  is  an  old-estab- 
lished work,  and  calls  first  for  notice.  Though  situated  in 

History  of  Sanquhar.  369 

the  parish  of  Kirkconnel,  it  is  on  the  very  border  of  San- 
quhar,  and  is  essentially  a  Sanquhar  industry.  It  was 
erected  in  the  year  1774  by  John  Rigg,  who  hailed  from 
Dalston,  in  Cumberland,  and  was  the  seqond  work  of  the 
kind  in  Scotland,  the  first  being  at  Duntocher.  The 
immediate  cause  of  a  forge  being  started  at  Crawick  was  the 
demand  for  shovels  in  connection  with  the  coal-workings, 
and  it  was  at  the  instigation  of  Mr  Barker,  then  lessee  of  the 
coal-pits,  that  Mr  Rigg  was  induced  to  remove  north.  The 
work  has  remained  in  the  hands  of  the  family  ever  since, 
the  present  possessor  being  the  fourth  of  the  name.  The 
machinery  is  driven  by  water  power,  derived  from  Crawick, 
a  damhead  having  been  constructed  opposite  the  village  of 
Crawick  Mill,  a  little  below  the  other,  which  affords  the 
water-supply  to  the  corn  and  woollen  mills  there.  There  are 
two  tilt-hammers,  besides  machines  for  preparing  the  handles 
of  the  implements  manufactured.  These  consist  of  solid 
steel  spades  and  shovels  of  all  kinds,  and  the  firm,  as  was 
stated  some  years  ago  in  the  North  British  Agriculturist, 
"  have  justly  received  a  wide  celebrity  for  the  excellence  of 
quality,  durability,  and  adaptability  to  their  work  "  of  the 
tools  turned  out  from  their  forge.  They  are  Government 
contractors,  and  have  exhibited  a  collection  of  their  manu- 
factures at  the  show  of  the  Highland  and  Agricultural 
Society,  for  which  they  were  awarded  a  silver  medal.  There 
are  fourteen  men  and  boys  employed. 

The  Queensberry  Forge  was  built  in  the  neighbourhood  of 
the  railway  station,  in  the  year  1874,  by  William  Cotts,  who 
had  previously  conducted  a  similar  business  at  Penpont,  from 
1843  to  1849,  and  afterwards  at  Shinnel,  in  the  same  locality, 
till  his  removal  to  Sanquhar,  when  he  assumed  his  two  sons 
as  partners,  by  whom,  since  his  death  in  1880,  the  forge  has 
been  carried  on.  The  machinery  is  driven  by  steam,  and 
consists  of  two  steam  hammers  and  a  tilt-hammer,  the 
number  of  men  and  boys  employed  being  thirteen.  The 
same  class  of  tools  is  manufactured  as  at  Crawick  ;  but, 


370  History  of  Sanquhar. 

besides,  Messrs  Cotts  are  doing  an  increasing  and  prosperous 
trade  in  various  kinds  of  forgings,  such  as  cart  axle-blocks, 
plough  beams  and  heads,  and  sock-moulds.  This  firm 
also  hold  a  high  reputation  for  the  quality  of  their  manu- 

In  addition  to  the  industries  above  mentioned,  there  are 
none  in  this  locality  except  such  as  are  common  to  country 
districts — joiners,  mill-wrights,  blacksmiths,  &c. — unless  we 
mention  the  shop  of  Mr  Peter  Turnbull,  who  has  an  engineer- 
ing plant  quite  unusual  to  be  found  in  a  country  black- 
smith's establishment.  Here  there  are  a  turning-lathe,  a 
vertical  drill,  and  a  combined  clipping  and  punching 
machine.  The  work  produced  consists  of  hutch-mountings 
for  collieries,  wire-fencing,  and  cart  axles,  and  is  entensively 
carried  on.  In  connection  with  the  last-named,  Mr  Turn- 
bull,  by  an  ingenious  arrangement  of  his  own  contriving, 
finishes  the  conical  ends  of  axles  by  automatic  action  on  the 
lathe,  whereby  they  are  turned  with  a  precision  unattainable 
by  the  hand,  the  great  advantage  being  that,  working  with 
perfect  smoothness,  they  wear  much  longer  than  those 
finished  in  the  usual  wav. 


the  Reformation,  Knox  and  the  ecclesiastical 
authorities  of  the  new  Church  set  themselves  to 
check  the  loose  morals  of  the  people,  and  the  more 
decent  observance  of  the  Sabbath  was  a  point  on 
which  they  strenuously  insisted.  Sunday-market- 
ing was  then  general  throughout  Scotland.  It  will  be 
observed  that,  in  the  charter  of  this  burgh,  liberty  is  given 
to  hold  one  of  the  weekly  markets  on  the  Sabbath  day. 
Work  of  various  kinds  was  engaged  in  on  the  holy  day.  It 
was  also  the  day  of  the  week  frequently  chosen  for  the  cele- 
bration of  marriages  and  the  merry-makings  connected  there- 
with, and  for  the  ordinary  recreations  and  amusements  of  the 
people.  In  Aberdeen,  it  was  common,  in  1609,  for  tailors, 
bakers,  and  shoemakers  to  work  till  eight  or  nine  every 
Sunday  morning  "  as  gif  it  were  ane  ouk  day."  Dancing 
round  the  Maypole  on  the  first  Sunday  in  May  was  widely 
practised,  and  was  very  popular  among  the  young  people. 
An  amusing  instance  of  the  kind  is  given  in  Chambers' 
Domestic  Annals  : — "  James  Somerville  of  Drum  was  a 
scholar,  about  1608,  at  the  village  school  at  Dalserf,  in 
Lanarkshire.  There  being  at  that  time  few  or  no  merchants 
in  this  petty  village  to  furnish  necessaries  for  the  scholars' 
sports,  this  }routh  resolved  to  furnish  himself  elsewhere,  that 
so  he  may  appear  with  the  bravest.  In  order  to  this,  by 
break  of  day,  he  rises  and  goes  to  Hamilton,  and  there 
bestows  all  the  money  that  for  a  long  time  he  had  gotten 

372  History  of  Sanqukar. 

from  his  friends  upon  ribbons  of  divers  colours,  a  new  hat, 
and  gloves.  But  in  nothing  he  bestowed  his  money  more 
liberally  than  upon  gunpowder,  a  great  quantity  of  which  he 
buys  for  his  own  use,  and  to  supply  the  wants  of  his 
comrades.  Thus  furnished  with  these  commodities,  but  with 
ane  empty  purse,  he  returns  to  Dalserf  (having  travelled  that 
Sabbath  morning  about  eight  miles),  puts  on  his  clothes  and 
new  hat,  flying  with  ribbons  of  all  colours  ;  in  this  equipage, 
his  little  fusee  upon  his  shoulder,  he  marches  to  the  church- 
yard, where  the  Maypole  was  set  up,  and  the  solemnity  of 
that  day  was  to  be  kept.  There  first  at  the  football  he 
equalled  any  that  played  ;  but  for  handling  of  his  piece,  in 
charging  and  discharging,  he  was  so  ready  that  he  far  sur- 
passed all  his  fellow -scholars,  and  became  a  teacher  of  that 
art  to  them  before  the  thirteenth  year  of  his  own  age.  The 
day's  sport  being  over,  he  had  the  applause  of  all  the  spec- 
tators, the  kindness  of  his  condisciples,  and  the  favour  of  the 
whole  of  the  inhabitants  of  that  little  village." 

The  demands  of  the  Church  were  for  a  complete  abstinence 
from  work  and  marketing,  as  well  as  from  amusements,  and 
a  regular  attendance  on  the  sermons.  The  Church  had  the 
co-operation  of  the  municipal  authorities  in  their  efforts  to 
reform  the  manners  of  the  people,  but  the  struggle  was  a 
hard  one.  So  wedded  were  the  populace  to  their  ancient 
customs  that  their  rulers  had  to  be  content  in  many  instances 
with  partial  restriction  without  insisting  on  total  prohibition. 
Some  of  the  ordinances  of  the  time  are  very  curious  and 
interesting.  Thus — The  Town  Council  of  Aberdeen,  in  1598, 
ordained  that  "  nae  mercat  either  of  fish  or  flesh  shall  be  on 
the  Sabbath  day  in  time  of  sermon.  A  certain  Kirk-Session 
required  that  "the  mill  be  stayit  from  grinding  on  the 
Sabbath  day,  at  least  by  eight  in  the  morning."  In  1594* 
the  Presbytery  of  Glasgow  is  found  forbidding  one  to  play 
his  pipes  on  Sunday  "  from  the  sun-rising  till  the  sun  going- 
to."  Breach  of  the  Sunday  regulations  was  punished  by 
fines,  graded  according  to  the  social  status  of  the  offenders. 

History  of  Sanquhar.  373 

An  elder  or  deacon  of  the  church  in  being  absent  from  the 
preachings  incurred  a  penalty  of  "  twa  shillings — for  other 
honest  persons,  sixpence."  These  penalties  were  increased  at 
a  later  period,  when  the  scale  was  raised  to  13s  4d  for  a 
householder  or  his  wife  and  6s  8d  for  a  craftsman  failing  to 
attend  church,  and  "  in  case  any  merchand  or  burgess  of  guild 
be  found  within  his  merchand  booth  after  the  ringing  of  the 
third  bell  to  the  sermon  to  pay  6s  8d."  The  people  were 
placed  under  strict  surveillance,  the  office-bearers  of  the 
church  acting  as  a  sort  of  ecclesiastical  police.  In  Perth,  in 
1582,  it  was  ordained  that  "  an  elder  of  every  quarter  shall 
pass  through  the  same  every  Sunday  in  time  of  preaching 
before  noon,  their  time  about,  and  note  them  that  are  found 
in  taverns,  baxter's  booths,  or  on  the  gaits,  and  delate  them 
to  the  assembly,  that  every  one  of  them  may  be  poinded  for 
twenty  shillings,  according  to  the  Act  of  Parliament." 

It  appears,  moreover,  that  the  Sabbath  was  reckoned 
differently  then  than  it  is  now.  It  was  held  to  commence 
at  sunset  on  Saturday,  and  to  terminate  on  Sunday  at  sunset, 
or  at  six  o'clock  ;  but  the  present  system  seems  to  have 
begun  to  be  observed  in  1635,  in  which  year  the  Presbytery 
of  Glasgow  ordered  "that  the  Sabbath  be  from  twelve  on  the 
Saturday  night  to  twelve  on  the  Sunday  night."  Not  only 
was  church  attendance  on  the  Sabbath  obligatory,  but,  in 
1600,  the  General  Assembly  ordained  that  "on  Thursday  ilk 
ouk  (every  week)  the  masters  of  households,  their  wives, 
bairns,  and  servants  should  compeir,  ilk  ane  within  their  awn 
parish  kirk,  to  their  awn  minister,  to  be  instructit  by  them 
in  the  grunds  of  religion  and  heads  of  catechism,  and  to  give, 
as  they  should  be  demanded,  ane  proof  and  trial  of  their 
profiting  in  the  said  heads."  But,  sad  to  say,  notwithstand- 
ing all  these  arrangements  for  the  instruction  and  godly 
upbringing  of  the  people,  the  General  Assembly  felt  con- 
strained in  the  following  year  (1601)  to  appoint  "  a  general 
humiliation  for  the  sins  of  the  land  and  contempt  of  the 
gospel,  to  be  kept  the  two  last  Sabbaths  of  June,  and  all  the 

374  History  of  Sanquhar. 

week  intervening."  All  students  of  history,  however,  know 
that  never  in  any  age  has  compulsion  had  much  effect  in 
promoting  public  virtue  or  personal  godliness.  The  practice 
of  catechising  by  the  clergy,  but  under  different  conditions — 
that  is,  private  catechising  of  the  people,  by  families  in  their 
own  houses — was  long  continued,  and  it  is  only  within  the 
recollection  of  the  present  generation  that  it  was  abandoned. 
The  Shorter  Catechism  was  the  favourite  subject  of  examina- 
tion, and  many  a  good  story  is  told  of  the  concern  that  was 
caused  by  the  announcement  of  a  "diet  of  pastoral  visitation," 
and  the  preparations  that  were  made  against  the  awful  day. 
The  catechism  was  diligently  conned  during  the  intervening 
period  by  the  family  or  families  who  were  to  undergo  this 
test  of  their  theological  knowledge.  To  master  the  whole  of 
this  compendium  of  Christian  doctrine  was  no  easy  task,  but 
the  minister  usually  began  with  the  first  question  with  the 
person  who  sat  next  him,  the  questions  in  their  order  being 
taken  by  the  persons  as  they  sat  in  a  circle.  The  mem- 
bers of  a  family,  then,  having  arranged  how  they  should  sit, 
could  calculate  which  of  the  questions  it  would  fall  to  each 
in  turn  to  answer  till  the  whole  had  been  gone  over.  And 
this  plan  was  oftentimes  adopted,  and  came  off  successfully 
if  no  change  in  the  composition  of  the  circle  occurred ;  but  if 
any  one  failed  at  the  last  moment  to  take  his  or  her  place, 
the  results  were  disastrous. 

While,  as  we  have  said,  the  people  clung  to  the  liberty  or 
licence  to  which  they  had  been  accustomed,  and  were  slow 
to  submit  to  the  restraints  which  Knox  and  his  colleagues 
sought  to  put  upon  them,  there  came  a  time  when  a  different 
spirit  prevailed  among  the  religious  portion  of  the  nation. 
The  Puritans  in  England  were  in  the  ascendancy  during  the 
Commonwealth  period,  and  a  strong  reaction  was  experienced 
in  that  country  from  the  laxity  in  morals,  both  public  and 
private,  that  had  prevailed  during  the  time  of  the  Stuarts. 
The  movement  was  from  one  extreme  to  another,  and  while 
it  cannot  be  gainsaid  that  Puritanism  embraced  the  moral 

History  of  Sanquhar.  375 

worth  of  the  English  people — the  men  who  were  the  very  salt 
of  the  nation  in  a  corrupt  age — the  Puritans,  by  the  undue 
strictness  and  severity  which  they  imposed  upon  the  masses 
of  the  population,  did  much  to  destroy  the  hold  which  they 
had  obtained.  They  laid  upon  the  people  burdens  which 
they  were  not  able  to  bear,  and  thus  prepared  the  way  for 
the  Restoration  which  afterwards  took  place.  In  Scotland 
they  had  their  counterpart  in  the  Presbyterians.  Between 
the  two  there  was  naturally  the  closest  sympathy,  and  so, 
throughout  Scotland,  the  same  system  of  strictness  of  morals 
and  of  religious  observance  was  established,  among  the  more 
earnest  section  of  the  people  represented  by  the  Covenanters. 
The  two  suffered  together  under  the  returned  Stuarts  down 
to  the  Revolution,  but,  though  subjected  to  persecution,  and, 
in  many  instances,  to  exile,  they  succeeded  in  maintaining 
their  position,  and,  on  the  final  expulsion  of  the  Stuarts,  con- 
tinued to  be  held  in  high  esteem,  both  for  their  steadfastness 
to  principle  and  for  their  moral  worth.  The  stern  Calvinism 
of  their  creed  accounted  for  the  strictness  of  their  views  in 
matters  of  practice  as  well  as  of  doctrine.  The  observance 
of  the  Sabbath  was  safeguarded  with  the  severest  restrictions; 
the  ordinances  of  religion  were  regarded  with  feelings  of 
reverence  approaching  to  superstition,  and  especially  the 
Sacrament  of  the  Lord's  Supper. 


The  observance  of  the  Sacrament  of  the  Lord's  Supper 
has  always  been  regarded  by  the  Church  in  Scotland  as  the 
greatest  of  her  religious  ordinances.  She  has  surrounded  it 
with  a  sanctity  beyond  all  the  other  offices  of  the  Christian 
faith,  and  that  upon  no  apparent  scriptural  authority.  Its 
importance  in  the  eyes  of  the  Church  was  marked  by  the 
iufrequency  of  its  celebration,  only  once  in  the  half-year ; 
then,  the  idea  was  accentuated  by  the  stringent  conditions 
imposed  upon  the  individual  members.  The  communicant 

376  History  of  Sanquhar. 

had  to  undergo  a  severe  ordeal  before  he  was  allowed,  for  the 
first  time,  to  take  his  place  at  the  table.  It  was  only  after 
strict  catechising  and  solemn  personal  dealing.  And,  last  of 
all,  a  practice  was  observed  immediately  before  the  adminis- 
tration, known  as  the  "  fencing  of  the  tables,"  consisting  of 
an  address,  in  which  not  only  the  more  flagrant  transgressors, 
but  all  who  had  been  guilty  of  one  or  other  of  a  long  catalogue 
of  minor  moral  offences,  were  "  debarred  "  from  taking  part 
in  this  most  solemn,  this  positively  terrible  ordinance.  The 
address,  however,  ended  with  a  few  sentences  of  "encourage- 
ment," designed  to  re-assure  the  timid  mind,  but  many  a 
conscientious  soul  must,  notwithstanding,  have  been  left 
in  a  condition  of  sore  perplexity  and  bewilderment  as  to 
whether  he  should  regard  himself  as  a  worthy  partaker,  or 
whether  he  did  not  run  the  risk  of  bringing  down  upon  him- 
self the  dreadful  judgment  of  Heaven  for  an  impious  act. 
All  this  has  been  much  modified,  in  recent  times,  in  the  more 
enlightened  parts  of  the  country,  but  in  the  Highlands,  to 
this  day,  the  practice  is  kept  up  in  all  its  rigidity,  the  result 
being  that,  among  a  people  peculiarly  susceptible  of  religious 
feeling,  and  peculiarly  conscientious  in  all  religious  obser- 
vances, this  ordinance,  presented  to  their  mind  in  such  a  dread 
form,  is  regarded  with  an  awe  amounting  to  superstition,  and 
the  number  of  adults  who  venture  to  assume  this  badge  of  the 
membership  of  the  church  is  comparatively  few.  "Strait  is  the 
gate  and  narrow  is  the  way  that  leadeth  unto  life,"  so  says 
Scripture,  but  truly  no  straiter  or  narrower  than  that  which, 
at  one  time  in  all  parts  of  Scotland,  and  even  yet  in  her 
northern  parts,  led  to  the  enjoyment  of  this  gracious  ordi- 
nance of  the  Lord's  appointing.  To  impress  upon  the  minds 
of  the  people  still  further,  if  that  were  possible,  the  solemnity 
of  the  occasion,  there  was  a  series  of  preaching  days,  begin- 
ning on  the  preceding  Thursday  with  what  was  termed  a  day 
of  "  solemn  fasting  and  humiliation."  On  this  day,  all  work 
was  suspended  just  as  on  a  Sabbath,  and  divine  service  was 
conducted,  It  is  not  more  than  two  or  three  years  since  a 

Histot^y  of  Sanquhar.  377 

shock  of  pious  horror  was  sent  through  the  church-going 
portion  of  our  community  by  the  first  instance  of  a  farmer  in 
the  parish  harvesting  on  the  Fast  Day.  This  institution  is, 
however,  rapidly  dying  out.  It  has  been  abolished  in  all  the 
principal  towns,  and  even  in  some  country  parishes,  where  it 
had  come  to  be  observed  rather  as  a  holiday  than  a  fast,  even 
by  respectable  church  people.  The  ecclesiastical  authorities 
were  compelled  to  recognise  that  the  force  of  public  opinion 
was  opposed  to  its  continuance,  and  they  wisely  resolved  to 
formally  abandon  it  rather  than  to  see  it  degenerate  into  a 
sham.  Its  value  as  a  day  of  rest  has,  however,  been  happily 
preserved,  for  the  municipal  authorities  have  in  most  cases 
arranged  that  a  general  holiday  should  take  its  place.  It  is 
plain  that  before  long  the  Fast  Day  will  have  passed  away 
throughout  the  greater  part  of  the  country.  A.  still  further 
preparation  for  the  coming  Sabbath  was  made  on  the  Satur- 
day, when  divine  service  was  again  conducted,  though  business 
was  not  suspended  as  on  the  Thursday,  and  the  attendance 
at  church  was  confined  to  the  more  devout  worshippers. 
Then,  the  dispensation  of  the  Sacrament  was  followed  on  the 
Monday  by  what  was  called  a  "Thanksgiving  Service."  This 
had  its  origin  at  the  Kirk  o'  Shotts — a  famous  place  in  our 
religious  history — where,  on  one  occasion,  a  service  was  held 
on  the  Monday  after  the  Sacrament  for  thanksgiving.  It 
resulted  in  so  remarkable  a  spiritual  awakening  that  it  was 
looked  upon  as  a  signal  mark  of  the  Divine  approval,  and 
thenceforward  the  practice  became  general  throughout  Scot- 
land. These  elaborate  arrangements  obtained  till  about 
twenty  years  ago,  when  a  disposition  was  shewn  on  the  part 
of  the  people  to  have  them  curtailed  to  a  more  simple  and 
sensible  form.  The  Monday  service  was  the  first  to  give 
way.  It  was  followed  not  many  years  after  by  the  Saturday 
service ;  and  now,  as  we  have  seen,  the  Fast  Day  is  following. 
When  that  occurs,  this  holy  ordinance  will  have  been  divested 
of  much  that  tended  to  foster  that  pious,  superstitious  feeling 
with  which  the  people  had  been  trained  to  regard  it,  and  it 


378  History  of  SancpuJtar. 

will  take  rank  only  as  one,  but  a  very  precious  one,  of  the 
various  forms  of  divine  worship. 

The  manner  of  the  observance  of  the  Sacrament  itself  falls 
now  to  be  described.  When  the  congregation  had  assembled 
on  the  Sabbath,  it  was  at  once  apparent  that  it  was  no  ordi- 
nary occasion.  The  young  people  either  sat  aside  or  in  the 
gallery,  whence  they  looked  with  awe-struck  wonder  at  a 
celebration  which  they  were  too  young,  many  of  them,  to 
comprehend,  far  less  to  participate  in.  The  manner  of  the 
celebration  in  Presbyterian  Scotland  has  always  been  severely 
plain.  The  table  in  front  of  the  pulpit  is  draped  with  a 
spotlessly  white  cloth,  and  bears  the  simple  elements  to  be 
used  in  the  Sacrament.  That  is  all.  The  elders,  a  grave 
and  reverend  circle,  sit  around,  while  the  countenances  of 
the  whole — ministers,  elders,  and  people  alike — shew  that 
their  spiritual  nature  is  moved  to  its  profoundest  depths.  It 
is  a  comely,  moving  sight.  The  observance  is  none  the  less 
touching  for  its  simplicity,  and  it  leaves  an  impression  on 
the  thoughtful  mind  not  easily  effaced.  It  cannot  be  doubted 
that  for  the  thousands  of  Scotchmen  and  Scotchwomen  who 
have  emigrated  from  their  old  homes  in  the  quiet  rural  parts 
of  their  native  land  to  all  quarters  of  the  globe,  there  are  no 
associations  of  their  early  days  the  recollection  of  which  will 
so  deeply  move  them  as  that  of  the  Sacrament  Sabbath. 
The  usual  preliminary  service  was  followed  by  what  was 
called  the  "  action  sermon,"  a  discourse  prepared  with  special 
care,  and  having  a  close  relation  to  the  day's  observance. 
This  was  followed  by  the  "  fencing  of  the  tables,"  to  which 
reference  has  already  been  made,  after  which  the  minister 
descended  from  the  pulpit,  and  the  high  and  sacred  feast 
proceeded.  It  was  the  custom  for  the  members  to  come  up 
in  relays,  each  section  constituting  what  was  termed  a 
"  table."  In  most  congregations  there  were  three,  while  in 
the  larger  parishes  there  were  six  or  seven  ;  there  are,  indeed, 
ancient  communion  tokens  which  prove  that  the  number 
in  certain  cases  reached  ten  or  twelve.  There  was  no  occasion 

History  of  Sanyuhar.  379 

on  the  score  of  accommodation  for  this  great  multiplication 
of  tables,  hut  even  where  the  whole  congregation  could  have 
sat  down  simultaneously,  so  rooted  was  the  custom,  that  had 
there  not  been  several  tables,  it  would  have  been  felt  that 
the  ordinance  had  been  observed  with  unbecoming  brevity. 
With  the  good  people  of  that  age,  the  very  length  of  time 
spent  over  it  was  a  measure  of  the  importance  and  sacred- 
ness  which  it  assumed  in  their  minds.  A  distinctive  feature 
of  the  occasion,  indeed,  arose  out  of  the  multiplication  of  the 
tables,  and  that  was  the  singing  during  the  intervals,  when 
the  occupants  of  one  table  made  way  for  their  successors. 
The  Psalm  associated  with  this  part  of  the  service  was  the 
103rd,  sung  to  the  tune  "  Coleshill,"  and  long  after  the 
ancient  Scottish  custom  of  the  precentor  reading  the  line 
before  singing  had  ceased,  it  was  continued  on  the  occasion 
of  the  half-yearly  sacrament.  While  the  strains  of  this  grand 
old  tune  filled  the  sacred  building,  the  communicants  filed  in 
and  out  along  the  isles  in  as  orderly  a  manner  as  was  possible. 
Keeping  step  to  the  solemn  cadence,  they  walked  with 
softened  tread,  lest  they  should  disturb  the  stillness  that 
reigned  profound. 

As  each  table  had  its  introductory  exhortation  and  parting 
admonition,  the  whole  followed  by  another  sermon  of  an 
hour's  length  or  more,  it  can  be  readily  understood  why  the 
service  occupied  a  good  many  hours,  extending,  as  it  often 
did,  till  twilight  had  set  in.  It  was  impossible  that  the 
minister  could,  single-handed,  undertake  the  whole  day's 
work,  embracing,  as  it  did,  two  sermons  of  portentous  length, 
and  an  array  of  exhortations  and  addresses  in  addition,  and, 
therefore,  he  had  to  engage  the  assistance  of  brethren.  An 
allowance  for  Sacramental  expenses  is  therefore  a  part  of  the 
settlement  of  a  minister  in  most  of  the  churches.  The 
manner  of  celebration,  while  doubtless  designed  to  increase 
its  solemnity,  gave  rise  to  customs  which  led  in  process  of 
time  to  those  scandalous  scenes  which  became  so  rampant  in 
Burns'  day,  and  inspired  that  stinging  satire  "  The  Holy 

380  History  of  Sanquhar. 

Fair,"  which  roused  the  ire  of  the  ecclesiastical  party,  and 
made  his  name  a  synonym  in  clerical  circles  for  the  Evil  one 
himself.  What  follows  will  serve  to  shew  to  what,  if  any, 
extent  it  was  an  exaggerated  picture,  and  whether  in  writing 
it  Burns  did  not  do  a  high  service  in  the  interests  of  true 
godliness  ;  not  to  speak  of  public  decency. 

The  elaborate  services,  as  above  sketched,  prevented  what 
would  have  proved  a  great  and  desirable  reform — the  simul- 
taneous observance  of  the  Sacrament  over  a  wide  area,  if  not 
over  the  whole  country.  It  required  a  group  of  ministers  to 
get  through  the  work  of  one  parish,  and  hence  a  simultaneous 
observance  of  the  ordinance  was  impossible.  Certain  ministers 
acquired  a  great  reputation  for  their  Sacramental  addresses ; 
their  services  were  much  sought  after  ;  and  this  probably 
had  much  to  do  with  the  custom  which  sprang  up  of  flocks 
of  people  gathering  to  the  Sacrament  from  neighbouring 
parishes.  As  certain  preachers  acquired  a  great  reputation 
for  their  addresses,  so  certain  parishes  acquired  a  similar 
reputation  for  their  Sacraments.  Sanquhar  and  Kirkconnel 
were  instances  of  such  parishes.  Stationed  on  the  borders  of 
Burns'  county,  the  ministers  of  Sanquhar  and  Kirkconnel 
could  command,  in  addition  to  the  talent  of  their  co- 
presbyters,  the  services  of  great  preachers  "  frae  the  west," 
whose  fame  still  lingers  among  the  older  people  of  the  district. 

The  first  and  natural  result  of  these  periodical  gatherings 
of  preachers  of  ability  and  power  was  to  attract  the  people 
of  neighbouring  parishes.  The  crowds  which  at  first  were 
drawn  consisted  of  respectable  church-going  people,  whose 
only  motive  was  to  hear  some  man  of  note,  quite  a  natural 
feeling  at  any  time,  and  especially  so  in  an  age  when,  owing 
to  the  difficulty  and  expense  of  travelling,  an  interchange  of 
pulpits  was  not  common  unless  between  near  neighbours, 
and  congregations  seldom  heard  any  but  the  familiar  voice 
of  their  own  minister.  Besides,  it  must  be  admitted  that,  in 
so  far  at  least  as  the  outward  observance  of  religious  ordi- 
nances was  concerned,  the  last  generation  was  more  earnest 

History  of  Sanquhar.  381 

and  devout  than  this.  The  tendency  of  a  large  influx  of 
strangers  was  not  towards  that  quiet  which  so  well  becomes 
all  religious  worship,  and  especially  the  celebration  of  this 
Sacrament  ;  their  presence  in  the  church  was  disquieting, 
and  in  truth  they  came  in  such  numbers  that  their  accom- 
modation within  the  building  became  an  impossibility. 
Provision  was  therefore  made  outside.  A  canopy,  called  a 
"  tent,"  was  erected  in  the  churchyard,  in  which  the  great 
bulk  of  the  country  kirks  are  situated.  This  was  meant  for 
the  protection  of  the  preacher  from  sun  or  storm,  whence  he 
addressed  the  crowds  which  gathered  round  him,  and  which  sat 
on  and  among  the  gravestones.  No  sooner  had  one  preacher 
finished,  than  his  place  was  taken  by  another  from  the  group 
within  the  church,  and  so  the  supply  was  kept  up,  the  people 
thus  being  afforded  the  opportunity  of  hearing  the  whole  of 
them  in  succession.  To  an  ambitious  preacher  this  was  a 
capital  opportunity  for  the  display  of  his  gifts,  while  the 
people  were  supplied  with  ample  food  for  criticism,  if  they 
were  critically  inclined,  which  the  majority  of  Scotchmen 
have  always  been  in  the  matter  of  preaching.  The  Church 
did  not  foresee  to  what  fearful  abuses  this  system  would  lead. 
A  dangerous  element  existed  in  the  open  public-houses, 
which  swarmed  in  every  country  town  and  village,  open  then 
on  a  Sabbath  as  on  a  week-day.  This  danger  was  not  so 
great  so  long  as  the  crowds  continued  to  be  composed  of  the 
regular  church-going  class,  but,  when  their  numbers  came  to 
be  augmented,  as  they  subsequently  were,  by  hosts  of  people 
who  were  by  no  means  "gospel-greedy,"  but  simply  came 
for  a  day's  outing  and  excitement,  the  evil  effects  were 
speedily  seen.  Godless  scapegraces  many  of  them  were,  who 
could  sit  unmoved  under  the  most  rousing  address,  listen 
with  the  most  apathetic  indifference  to  the  judgments  of 
heaven  being  pronounced  with  a  vehemence  and  in  terms 
fitted  to  terrify  the  stoutest  and  most  callous  heart,  and  at 
the  end,  walk  away  deliberately  to  the  nearest  village  tavern 
to  profane  the  day  and  the  occasion  by  drinking  and 

382  History  of  Sanquhar. 

debauchery.  Scenes  were  enacted  which  are  almost  incredible 
to  the  present  generation,  but  they  have  been  described  by 
eye  and  ear-witnesses  whose  trustworthiness  cannot  be 

In  one  parish,  where  a  roadside  public-house  was  situated 
in  close  proximity  to  the  church,  on  the  Sacrament  day  there 
was  a  constant  stream  of  traffic  in  and  out  this  place.  A 
roaring  trade  was  done,  the  ringing  of  the  bells  by  the  many 
customers  keeping  up  a  running  accompaniment  to  the  tent- 
preacher's  discourse.  Drinking  was  not  confined  to  what 
might  be  called  needful  refreshment.  The  extent  to  which 
it  was  carried  may  be  gathered  from  the  case  of  a  drouthy 
burgess  of  Sanquhar  who,  at  a  Kirkconnel  Sacrament,  after 
being  well  refreshed,  coiled  himself  up  under  the  shelter  of 
the  tent  and  fell  fast  asleep.  There  he  lay  for  a  time